Grandpa used to tell us stories from the fields:
“Trees are mothers to fruits. They need love and affection to take care of their babies to come. You could “blind” your tree if you don’t treat it properly when collecting its fruits.”
During harvest time, if you don’t know how to pick the olives by hand or how to use the so-called shakers, you could harm the points that connect the fruits with the brunches.
These are the tree’s “eyes” guiding the tree on how to protect the fruit from the strong winds and the heavy rains.
Blinding the tree means no olives next year.
In Lakonia, Greece, we harvest most of the fruits during December. But the harvest can take months to complete.
Plenty of factors plays a significant role in distinguishing the results between early, mid and late harvest times but all add up to one thing: Taste.
Technically, both early and late harvest oils are of similar quality but completely different in style.
Olives reach their full size in the fall but it is late winter that they will become fully ripen and their color will turn from green to black. Late winter is the time when they are usually picked, either for table consumption or to make olive oil.
Green olives (usually picked between late October and early December) have somewhat less oil, are more bitter, and are usually higher in polyphenols and phytochemicals with antioxidant properties.
The oil produced from unripe, green olives tends to be more expensive because it takes more olives to make a liter, and harder to find, while it is prized for its superior qualities:
“Agoureleo”, meaning in Greek immature oil, is reasonably considered to be the most expensive and sought-after oil since it has the most aroma and bright green color that depicts its highest antioxidant content. Its flavor is peppery, with notes of grass and green leaves.
As we move further into winter it’s time to pick the largest volumes of this divine delicacy.
In some regions, they won’t get picked at all but will be allowed to fall into nets or onto the ground by themselves. This secures the fruit will have more juice and will produce more oil, but on the other hand, the risk of ripe fruits being damaged by frost increases significantly.
Late harvest or black, “winter” olives produce mild oils with little varietal character. And because they are riper, like other ripe fruit, they have a mellow taste with little bitterness and more floral flavors with a softer feel in the mouth.
Early, mid, or late harvest means different taste properties, and consequently, different ways to use the olives and their byproducts in the kitchen.
Early harvest olive oil is ideal for raw consumption so as to enjoy every single of its particles contributing to its priceless nutritional value. The aroma of early harvest olive oil may be rather intense so is the taste. This means you need to be more careful with quantities when using for example to flavor your favorite green salad.
Mid and mid-late harvest olive oil is ideal to be treated as an all-purpose cooking medium that can literally upgrade your diet and turn your eating routine into a healthy habit, while what you eat becomes tastier and obtains a “fresh feel”.
Just pour a spoon of fresh olive oil over your steak after it’s been cooked, and close your eyes when having that first bite. It will travel you to the sun kissed fields of the Lakonian olive groves and the sparkling treasures of Mediterranean cuisine.
Tip1: Add some fresh lemon juice to your olive products, if you are a “like mine sour” type of foodie, and/or season with your favorite spices mix to chill things up.
Tip2: Pour on top of Greek feta cheese and garnish with oregano or Greek Mix of Herbs and Spices and accompany with your choice of Greek Country Olives Mix.
Feel free to comment below and share your experience with us!