Information about Olives

Olive Cultivation

The history of olive cultivation can be traced back far into antiquity. Already the Hebrews, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans knew the olive tree. On Crete the olive was already 6000 years B.C. one of the most important foods. In the Olympic games in Greece an olive branch served as a sign of victory. The olive branch is also the peace symbol of the United Nations (UN).

The Olive Tree

There are about 1000 different kinds of olive trees but, in the meantime, about 150 species provide in the different countries for a taste variety comparable with wines. Olive trees need dry warmth, lots of sun and tolerate poor soil. Therefore, in the Mediterranean climate olive trees find ideal living conditions. In the hot summer they pull with up to six-meter-long roots water from the ground. With proper care olive trees become some hundred years old and in some cases even up to 20 meters high. A tree, according to kind, delivers the first fruits after about four to ten years. Depending on weather, water supply, age and size a tree carries in the long-standing average 20 to 30 kg of olives. This corresponds to 3 to 4 liters of olive oil per tree. The wind is responsible for the pollination of the blossoms and out of 20 tiny olive flowers only one olive is originated.

 The Greeks have the worldwide highest consumption of olive oil, namely 23 liters per person and year.

The Color

The taste of the oil determines not only the olive type, but also the ripe state of the olive. Olives mature in autumn and winter. Their color changes from green to a dark purple looking almost black. The oil also changes color, depending on the ripeness of the olives. Between end of October and beginning of December harvested olives provide a stronger, fruitier, slightly greenish oil. The olives for the best oils are still picked by hand or beaten off from the tree with a stick, falling on a net lying on the ground. These methods are labor intense and account for about half of the whole production costs of the oil.