Harvesting olives on Crete: It is that time of the year, the time of harvesting olives on Crete has started again. From the beginning of November until the end of January, people all over the island are harvesting their olives to produce olive oil. Crete is known for its high-quality olive oil, the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. At Zorbas Island we use olive oil for all our dishes, which we produce ourselves each year, the famous Zorbas olive oil. So it is time to put on work clothes and go to the olive grove with the entire Zorbas team – Buy olive oil on Crete

When are olives harvested: The harvest of the olives can start as soon as the olives are for 75% ripe.  When the olives are fully matured, this is at the expense of the quality of the olive oil, since it increases the acidity. For many people it is difficult to see when is the right time to start the harvest. We check if the olive factory opens in that same area. It will not open until the harvest can start. This may be different for each area, because not all the olives are ripe for harvest at the same time. In the mountainous areas of Crete, where it is colder, the harvest starts later. In the coastal area the harvest starts at the beginning of November and in the mountains, they might have to wait until the end of December.

The olive harvest on Crete: The olive harvest is a labour-intensive job and that is why as many people as possible are asked to help. It is often a gathering of whole families in the fields. In general, the women and children are engaged in laying the nets and sorting the olives. The men beat the olives from the trees and carry the heavy bags to the car. Of course there are also necessary breaks for a cup of coffee and a picnic in the olive grove. It is tremendously hard work, but it is also a very pleasant time in winter.

How are olives harvested: We regularly get the question about how the olives are harvested on Crete. People often think we shake the trees and that way the olives fall out. That sounds like an easy solution, but it is just not possible. Firstly, this tree stands so firmly in the ground, that there is no movement as you would try to shake it. It would only damage the root of the tree. Secondly, the olives are attached tightly to the branches and they would not fall out. The olives that fell off the tree because of the wind are not of good enough quality for the olive oil and are not used.

To begin with, people lay large nets under the tree. Because the olives hang firmly with a stalk to the branch, they must be beaten out. In the past this was only done with sticks, so completely manually. Only since about 20 years, there are machines to speed up the harvest. The harvesters consist of a portable generator and a T-shaped long stick with elastic rubbers attached to the top part. This stick is connected to the generator with a cable and as soon as it is switched on, the top part of the stick rotates quickly with the rubbers. These rubbers must beat the olives from the tree.

It is a tough job, because the sticks have to be taken manually along the branches. If this is not done according to a specific technique, the tree will get damage and the production of olives will decrease. This method of harvesting applies to the area where our olive trees are, in Central and Eastern Crete. In parts of West Crete there is also a different kind of olive tree. There the farmers lay the nets under the trees in October and the olives that fall from the trees are ripe and collected for consumption. If those olives are not ripe enough, they do not fall out of the tree and they are not beaten out either. Here it takes weeks before all the olives have fallen from the trees.

Pressing olives on Crete: After the olives are harvested, they are put in hessian sacks. These sacks are taken to the olive press in the village. That is quite an experience, because at the end of the day fully loaded cars are coming and going. Everywhere there are huge piles of sacks, even on the street. At the olive press the bags of olives are emptied in a large filler funnel. Any leaves are removed on a conveyor belt. Then the olives are rinsed to remove sand and suchlike. The olives are then cold pressed, releasing the oil. A bag of olives generally weighs around 45 kilos, which gives with a little luck about 10 kilos of olive oil.

The quality of Greek olive oil: Research has shown that especially the Cretan olive oil is of the highest quality. This is because both farmers and at the olive press they must work according to strict rules. For example, certain chemicals for pest control and pressing the olives with heating are not permitted. These factors do not benefit the acidity and therefore the quality of the olive oil. The olive oil of Crete is delicious and healthy for use in salads. But even when the oil is heated, no harmful substances are released. That is why you can also use this extra virgin olive oil for baking and frying.

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Crete Olive Oil Shop: Now you can also order our own Zorbas Olive Oil in Premium Quality online! You will find also more Information about the Erxtra Virgin Olive Oil on this new website.

Olive harvest in the winter in Greece: Besides preparing new excursions, we also deal with the olive harvest on Crete. We have our own olive trees, which give us enough olives for a large stock of our famous Zorbas olive oil. The whole Zorbas team is participating in the olive grove, but also for our guests it is a fun activity on Crete in winter. It is great to experience this once, even if it is just to taste the atmosphere of being all together in the fields. Today we enjoy it anyway; the sun is shining, and it is just over 20 degrees! Typical winter weather on Crete – Greece