Olive oil has been for hundreds of years, the basic agricultural product of the island Zakynthos and especially of the village “Lithakia”. The Zakynthian olive oil shines just like the sun in the area. Both the soil and climate conditions favor the production of superior-quality olive oil. Today, in Zakynthos there are about 2.000.000 olive trees, while in Lithakia there are about 200.000, which means 10% of the island’s production.
The production of olive oil had been for many years the main activity of Soulis- the Haikalis family. Beginning around 1850 with the simplest eolith animal-powered olive oil press (part of it still remains today).
Here, we see a component, called “Plantra”, of a wooden machine called “Maggania”, used for the compression of the olive pulp. At first, the olives were being pressed at the stone olive mill with animal power. In front of us, we have the vertical axes of movement and two of the stones. This machine was used from 1850 till the end of the 19th century.
After that, we can see the metallic machine which replaced the wooden. The olives still were being pressed like at the olive mill and then, the olive pulp was put in special olive clothes’ bags with natural fiber. All of them were placed into this machine, called “Karagioza”. Then, from this hole, manpower was pressing them and the olive oil was running over there. We used this machine until 1935.
Then, the first small hydraulic press appeared ( 1935 – 1965 ). During that period, the olives were being pressed at the stone olive mill by mechanical power. The olive pulp was laid in this special clothen squared bags. All of them, one by one, were placed on the plate of the hydraulic press. When the plate is full with bags till the top , this machine which produces pressure presses the bags and the olivepulp inside and olive oil drills out .
After , the small hydraulic press was replaced from an other bigger hydraulic press , so that we extract more olive oil and quicklier . For the big hydraulic press the stonemills were not used to get the olivepulp but it was the hammer maschine with round containers . We keeped the olivepulp in this container for about 40 minutes and then we placed it round on this special bags (filters ) . One by one we placed the special bags ( filters ) in the middle of this trailer till the trailer is full . When the trailer was full it was placed into the hydraulic press machine and through this pump ( piston ), the trailer was going up, the olives were being pressed and the olive oil was extracted from the filters. You can see photos of all the stages. The big hydraulic press was operated until 1989 and then we have changed it by using center-fugal force machine. From 2008 we moved in here with the latest technology machinery.
Here, we see a 1500 year old olive tree. Our variety is “Koroneiki”. In October, the olives became yellow green and at the end of the season, they are dark brown ( purple ). The olive trees have always been closely bound to the history and traditions of the Greek people. As much as a symbol of peace as of frugality, it has been giving its fruits to man from time immemorial.
Now, let’s go inside and I explain you all the stages of the olive oil process making. At the harvesting period, from the end of October to the end of February about, the producers bring their olives in clothes’ bags of 50, 60 kg depends on them. We carry the clothes’ bags with this machine over there and we empty them into this chute.
And the olive oil process making begins from inside. This is the first machine that the olives came in. This machine shakes them. While they are being shaken through two pumps over there, working by strong air, suck the leaves, the branches and the twigs outside. These stay outside until they become compost or the producers take them to feed their animals. The clean olives are washed in this corridor and then are weighted. It’s about 5-6 kg olives give 1 litre oil.
After that, the olives go to hammer machine which ground them, like stone olive mill did before. We get the olive pulp from this machine. In front of us, we can see ten containers were the olive pulp turns around for about 30 minutes and warm water is around of each container. The temperature of the water is 22 to 25o C. We don’t use highest temperature because we don’t want to destroy the good things, the benefits and the taste from the oil. That means cold-pressed olive oil. Each of them contains 1200 kg of olive pulp. We write the name of each producer at the white board in front of them because the producers here don’t sale the olives. They make their own olive oil.
We press the buttons and automatically through this pump down there, the olive pulp passes to the centri-fugal force machine. This machine spins 3000 times per minute and separates inside it in two big rings the oil from the waste. The waste is the pips and the skin of the olives. we can use that for fuel. We have a heating machine outside; we burn the waste, so we have the hot water for the containers and for cleaning here. We have an ecological way of process (full recycling, nothing wasted).
On the other side we have the olive oil but it isn’t clean enough because small pieces of the pips and the skin had left in. at the end we have the last phase of separation. This machine purifies the olive oil. And we have the extra virgin olive oil into this weight tank. This is the weight system of the oil. The producers have 3 choices at that time: they can take their own oil of course, they can sale it here or we can store it for them to take it or sale it another time. Through those pipes, the olive oil goes to the stainless steel tanks, 27 tons each. They pay us only by oil not by money. We keep the 10 per cent of their oil production.
Finally we put this oil in this kind of white iron tin, specially certified for olive oil, and we use this material because it protects the oil from the light. The light goes through the glass, downgrades the quality and changes its color. And also it is suitable for traveling it without problems.
We make, also, the olive soap by traditional way making like our grandmothers made at the island and used it for everything; moisturizing the skin, especially for eczema, dry skin, sunburns and strengthens the hair because it contains vitamin E from olive oil. If you make massage on skin, it decreases the cellulite.
These are the eatable Zakynthian olives; they are the same olives that give the oil. We have chosen them from the medieval trees; we have chosen the big, the healthier and black ones. We put them in salted water, we change it daily for about 15 days and then we put them into extra virgin olive oil. Those are our products, they are local and natural.
Nowadays, scientists and dieticians worldwide agree on the food value and the benefits properties of olives and olive oil and recommend their consumption as essential complements o the daily diet.
We have two kinds of olive oil. The green ones are of producers that they farm under control. It is a product of System of Integrated Management Certified by Tuv Hellas. The completed (integrated) management is combination of good agricultural practices of protection of the environment and protection of the health of the producer and of course the consumer. In the integrated management, there is control from agronomist of TUV Hellas in the culture from the start until the finish, ensuring that in each stage of the process, the plant gets what it requires. Before the use of fertilizers, an analysis of soil and leafage is conducted (Fyllodiagnostics). The brown one is of producers that they produce under the organic farming. These are two similar ways of farming. Both are pure and tasteful.
You will see now a video. You will see about the harvest and the process of the olive press. At the same time, you can taste some olive oil with some village bread and local olives.
Michael Travel Office – Argassi