Despite the abundance of olive groves now scattered across the world, in both the northern and southern hemisphere, most olive oil continues to come from the Mediterranean. The intricate nature of the olive tree is evident in the many varieties of olives that exist. While color, size and composition may all point towards a certain variety, the maturity of the olive plays an important role as it affects both the taste and the oil produced. Additionally, some olives are suitable only as table olives and others are suitable only to produce oil.
The “queen” of olives produces a high quality, low acidity and full-bodied extra virgin olive oil. The Koroneiki olive, picked while is still green, is highly prized for its aromatic, strong flavored oil, perfect for enjoying in its natural raw state or added at the end of cooking. These olives yield approximately 6 to 7 liters of the best olive oil which is golden-green in color and is highly acclaimed for its fruity and fresh flavor. The Koroneiki olive is mainly presented in the south Peloponnese and in some areas of Crete. Kalamata PDO is one of the finest extra virgin olive oil that comes from Koroneiki variety.
Athinolia is a variety of olive that matures slowly and is collected from the end of December until the beginning of January. Its fruit has a medium size oval shape, with a weight of 2.2 to 2.9 grams and a length that can vary from 7.5 to 25 millimeters. When Athinolia and Koroneiki olives are mixed they produce a full-body extra virgin olive oil of a balanced and intricate fruity flavor.
Manaki is another olive variety that matures slowly. This olive variety thrives in very high altitudes. The harvest period is from the end of October until the beginning of January. Its fruit has an oval shape and is relatively small. The taste of olive oil that comes from this fruit is softer and its aroma reminds ripe fruits like apple and tomatoes.
Kalamata olives are named after the city of Kalamata in Messenia, southern Greece and are also grown in the nearby region of Laconia. They are almond-shaped, with a rich dark purple color, smooth and meaty in texture and are harvested by hand only when they fully ripe to protect their sensitive skin against bruising. They are marinated in salt brine and immersed in olive oil and wine vinegar to acquire a characteristic light fruity flavor and sweetness. These olives are protected under the European Protected Geographical Status scheme.
Green olives come from variety of Chondrolia in Chalkidiki, a region in Northern Greece. They feature large sized berries, bright green yellow color and slightly bitter taste while they lack in grassiness. They are harvested by hand between 15 September to 15 October and after pitting they are re-evaluated in large tanks, so that only the best berries will be used.
Black olives come from the region of Amfissa. They are a typically Greek type of olive which has been allowed to fully ripen on the tree before harvesting. Their black color is a result of natural ripening – no artificial added. The distinguishing characteristic is the lack of lye in the de-bittering process. Their color varies from red-violet-black to purple and deep black and their taste is fleshy and slightly fruity.