As you all know, the Greek olive (sometimes Spanish if supplies are low!) makes up a huge part of my life, featuring heavily in both my dietary and beauty regime. So I was very excited to be given the opportunity to test/taste and review a number of delicious delicacies straight from an olive farm in Sparta.
Run by the lovely Marianna, UK-based company Oliveology was created in 2009 as a means of sharing and enjoying the culinary treasures and gastronomic traditions of Greece. With produce sourced straight from a small organic farm located at the foot of the Taygetus mountains, in a small village near Sparta, Oliveology helps to preserve traditional farming methods and supports local independent producers in Greece.
From extra virgin, temperature defined cold pressed olive oil, to unpasteurised Kalamata olives, to olive leaf tea, Marianna has brought the original liquid gold to London and showcases the Greek produce at Borough Market.
I was lucky enough to receive a large package of wonderful Oliveology products and have to say that after tasting the samples on offer, I am now positively glowing with olive-goodness.
Olive oil forms the basis of the Greek diet. No salad goes without it, no moussaka gets cooked without it, no bread escapes a dunking from it. I received a beautifully packaged tin of 18ºC organic extra virgin olive oil made from unripe olives when they are still small and green. And the taste was amazing. Oliveology also sell a range of flavoured olive oils including white truffle and olives pressed with apples, walnuts, cinnamon, honey and sage. Simply divine!
The Koroneiki olive, the ‘royal’ type, is highly praised for its exquisite taste and texture. Oliveology’s olive harvest begins in early December when the fruit is still green and unripe. This is because these olives have been proved to have the highest levels of antioxidants and polyphenols, essential to boost the immune system and to maintain a balanced healthy diet.
An early harvest produces unripe olives. These are pressed into ‘agourelaio’ (early harvest oil) that is young and vibrant, with a strong flavour and very low acidity. This is mainly used in salads or eaten raw. A harvest from the same trees at a later stage will give an olive oil ‘elaiolado’ (mid harvest oil) that is smoother and more mellow, with a milder flavour. These oils may be used in salads but are more generally suited to cooking and baking.
The olives are cold extracted at exceptionally low temperatures within a few hours of being picked. Lower extraction temperatures result in a smaller yield but a higher quality because the oil remains exceptionally rich in nutrients and has superior organoleptic properties.
Whilst diamonds might be a girl’s best friend, Olives are a Greek’s best friend. I am a huge fan of olives so I was so happy to receive TWO generous helpings of black kalamata olives and teeny tiny green baby olives packed with taste! You can even buy olives drenched in ouzo!
Kalamata, also known as Kalamon olives are one of Greece’s superior quality table olive varieties. The harvest season ranges from October to November. The fruit is hand picked and then subjected to a stringent selection process to remove damaged olives.Olives have high levels of monounsaturated fats and are a good source of protein, vitamin E, antioxidants and polyphenols and an excellent provider of oleic acid and oleuropein.
Olives would taste very bitter if eaten straight from the tree. Rather, they are naturally cured in fresh water, a process, which needs dedicated and constant observation for 6 to 9 months. Oliveology’s olives are packaged in organic extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, very little salt and wild aromatic herbs from our farm.
I was also sent a lovely selection of herbs including oregano and thyme – I definitely can’t have my feta without a sprinkling of oregano. I’m usually a peppermint tea kinda girl but Marianna sent me some olive leaf tea which is caffeine free and so refreshing! Not only has olive leaf tea a great flavour, but also detoxifying and healing properties. Olive leaves are exceptionally rich in vitamins A, B, C and E, and will give your body anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal boost. Great for colds, flu and infections.
And let’s not forget the truffles. You can add a pinch of truffle salt to any dish or why not try the truffle carpaccio for intense luxurious truffle flavour and aroma. Truffles are renowned for their healing properties for muscular and arthritic pain, lowering cholesterol levels, and of course their aphrodisiacal function.
I have to be honest I don’t eat nuts – I’m not technically allergic, but my throat gets a little bit itchy (so maybe I am!) so these were passed out to the family – and literally gone in 60 seconds. My Greek man aka the nut fiend, wolfed down the selection of Pistachios before I had a chance to admire their beautiful colour.
The Corinth raisins have provided me with the perfect healthy snack to keep in my drawer at work and are a great source of energy, vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. My mum has an ongoing love affair with figs so I didn’t see much of those but they also make for a delicious healthy snack!
Greek dried fruits and nuts are world class. The combination of strong summer sun with optimal soil conditions produces a sweet product that is unsurpassed. High summer temperatures allow fruit and nuts to be air dried naturally in time honoured tradition. Dried fruit and nuts are a cornerstone of the Greek gastronomic heritage. Traditionally used in sweet baked goods or as a accompaniment to Greek yogurt and honey.
Greece has a long history of apiary (bee-keeping). Greece has more beehives per acre than any other country in Europe. A wide biodiversity of flora combined with powerful summer sun produce this golden nectar. For many, Greek honey is regarded as one of the finest in the world.
Honey is the first traditional sweetener used by the Greeks since antiquity. Honey along with the olive and the grape formed the beginnings of Greek gastronomy. Honey contains anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal substances. Honey has been used for centuries as a treatment for sore throats and coughs, minor burns, cuts and other bacterial infections. All Oliveology bee products are raw (unpasteurised), unfiltered, unprocessed with no additives.
Delicious, healthy and beautifully packaged, every little detail of the Oliveology range is impressive. If you are looking for completely organic products farmed and harvested the traditional Greek way you absolutely won’t be disappointed with what you find online at Oliveology or down at Marianna’s stall in Borough market.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Marianna for being so kind and sending me such a wonderful array of produce and don’t forget to check out the Oliveology blog where you can find recipes, health tips and more!
Disclaimer: This post contains samples that were sent to me for review.