The annual olive oil harvest has started. As always, your olive oil is shipped once a year directly from the press.
Early expectations were for a bumper crop this year. Unfortunately a combination of drought conditions through the summer months and very wet weather in the autumn have modified predictions. The Olive Oil Coucil anticipates a drop of about 30% for Greece. Estimates for Greek production are variable from region to region though our area near Olympia largely expecting a drop from last year's already low levels.
Petros our picker and arborist, had wanted to wait to pick later in the season, mid to late December, to allow the olives to ripen further and benefit from the rain. However, wet conditions augmeted by hail have pushed to harvest forward to mid November. As a result, while the production should be a good oil, there will be less of it.
The early harvest produces a smaller quantity of oil but of a significanlty higher quality (agroueleo). The higher chlorophyll content in unripe olives produces an oil that is greener and richer in healthy polyphenols with a stronger taste, low acidity [this year acidity is 0.24] and higher antioxidant content.
Olive oil is the only source of food containing polyphenols oleacein and oleocanthal, two powerful antioxidant. The excellent nutritional value of early harvest olive oil is acknowledged worldwide with clinical research underway by the universities of Athens and California to quantify the effectiveness on health.
Please refer to additional article in EVOO Information/Resources.
2017 testing results:
When buying olive oil off the shelf, bear in mind that there is some controversy about how reliable the product may be (Tom Mueller, "Extra Virginity; The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil" 2012).
Origin: Greece is the third largest producer of olive oil and 80% of Greek production is by default Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We are also the largest consumers internationally and at an annual rate of 18 kilos per person, we consume about a 2/3s of our total production. (To put this into context, the the next largest consumer is Spain, which has a per capital annual consumption of about 12 kilos while Americans will consume about 1 kilo per person/annum.) A small percentage of the third that is left of is bottled and sold abroad as Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil and is more likely to be authentic. Much of this will come from organized co-operatives in Crete and the Peloponnese. The balance is sold in bulk (about 60%) to Italian and Spanish producers who blend it with their own oils.
Information on labels: More information indicates an awareness on the part of the producer about what they are selling as well as a respect for the consumer. Check the label for information such as the date of production and/or expiry date (2 years) as well as listing of acidity (must be below 0.8% acidity to qualify as Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the lower the better - our oil is generally less than 0.2%).
Additional information about the type of olive used and particularly single variety oil, such as the Koroneiko, is also an indication of a higher quality product.
Container: Always steer clear of olive oil sold in plastic or transparent containers. Chemicals from the plastic will transfer to the oil and clear glass exposes the oil to more light, increasing the speed of degeneration.
http://www.businessinsider.com.au/how-to-buy-good-olive-oil-2015-4 - how to buy olive oil
Information about the 2015-2016 European harvest:
General information about harvest in Europe http://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oil-making-and-milling/will-the-2015-olive-harvest-be-a-good-one/48533 2015
60% of Greek produce exported to Italy http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/07/31/what-you-dont-know-about-italian-olive-oil-also-explains-greeces-disaster-economy/
High prices in olive oil this year due to disease/weather http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/24/olive-oil-prices-surge-drought-disease-spain-italy
Growing conditions in Spain and Italy, impact on Greece http://www.oliveoilmarket.eu/plagues-and-pests-in-spain-and-italy-are-opening-markets-for-greek-olive-oil/
Developments in Greek exports 2015 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-20/greek-olive-oil-exports-boom-as-italy-spain-s-prices-soar
Some recovery in world production following two years of disease and poor weather outside of Greece http://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oil-business/this-years-harvest-not-as-bad-as-the-last-one-council-wagers/48783