Pressing the olives for olive oil: It is quite a process to work all year round with the olive trees. But the best moment every year is the pressing of the olives. How much olive oil will this year come from that tiny fruit and what is the quality of the olive oil? It is not depending on the way of pressing; on Crete this is always done in the same way to guarantee exceptional quality. Proper care of the olive trees throughout the year is an important factor for a good yield, but a bit of luck also plays a role. We just finished harvesting our olive trees, so we go straight to the olive factory for pressing the olives for olive oil. This must be done within a few days after the harvest, otherwise the olives will ferment, and the quality of the olive oil will deteriorate.
Olive pressing on Crete in the past and today
In history, olive oil has not only been important for food, but also for the economy of Crete. For centuries, the Cretan olive oil has been a central theme in art, literature, traditions and religion. The pressing of the olives for olive oil used to be done by rotating millstones, which were powered by a donkey. The resulting mass was then divided over mats that were stacked before being compressed with a large press. This press was first a large wheel that pushed a plate down, just like the first book press was. This resulted in a liquid. The technique with hand presses, already in use by the Romans, mostly belongs to the past. The basics of that olive press on Crete has remained the same, only now a hydraulic press of stainless steel is used.
Olive press on Crete Greece
On the Greek island of Crete they produce about 80,000 to 120,000 tons of olive oil per year. Of this amount 90% belongs to the category of Extra Virgin olive oil. It is an exceptionally large amount for an island. This is mainly thanks to the sunny and warm climate that many olives grow here every year and for centuries on the trees. But what really guarantees the quality of the olive oil are the strict regulations for the way in which olives are pressed. On this page you can read more about how nowadays the olives are pressed in the olive factory on Crete; it sure is an interesting process.
Pressing the olives