Lakonian Olive Oil
From the field to the dinner table, olives bring Greek friends and families together. The roots of the olive tree date back to the times of Sparta in the 900s B.C. and holds firm in present day Laconia. That is where my family, the Lagoudis lives.
We always have.
The reason the Lagoudis know a thing or two about olive oil is because we had to. We are descendents of the Maniots. Our ancestors of the Mani Peninsula lived in mountainous areas that other humans, including invaders, could not reach. The only way to access these areas were by the sea.
Having to rely only on one another, the Maniot people learned the sense of community early on. Together, they cultivated olive trees, picked the ripe fruits, and pressed the olives into oils that only the people of Mani would use for centuries to come.
This is a tradition that we, the Lagoudis, hold to this day. We know just how vital olive oil is to the land that we live on. To keep that memory alive, we still have a 17th century stone press castle on our land. It is open to the public to come visit and we love to share stories of our family’s past.
Our love for tradition is the reason why we produce just enough oil every season for our neighbors. We do not export our oils because we don’t need to. We have everything we need on our land.
Everything our community has is in thanks to the olive tree.
How Long Does an Olive Tree Live?
Like Greeks, olive trees are very resilient. They are capable of surviving a heavy drought, living through diseases, and exhibit fire-resistant qualities.
On top of that, the roots of an olive oil tree are regenerative. Even if the olives, leaves, and bark above ground are all destroyed, the roots remained established and ready to create life once again.
Olive trees thrive in Laconia due its rich soil. Being bordered by the Myrtoan Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, natural sea salt is carried by the clean, mountainous air. Eventually, the salt settles downward to nourish the soil below.
Having rich soil is essential for the growth of any vegetation. If the microorganisms underneath the ground are not supplying the soil with rich nutrients, then the life of the tree and the quality of its fruits become jeopardized.
For an olive tree to flourish, it needs to be in sunny, warm weather for the majority of the time. Luckily for natives of Laconia, it rarely gets to freezing temperatures. While the winter nights do get cold, it is not enough to stunt the production of our precious olives.
Due to all of these factors, olive trees can live a couple of hundred years. In fact, some olive trees in the Mani region have been scientifically verified to be at least 2,000 years.
To tell the age of the olive tree, you need to look at its trunk. As an olive tree ages, its trunk becomes broader. As this happens, its texture becomes rough and continues to do so with time.
What Kind of Olives Does Laconia Produce?
On our land, we have 20 plots full of vegetation. Across these vast fields lives an abundance of olive oil trees. While our salt is the healthiest, the air is the cleanest, and the soil is the richest, some years these olive trees don’t produce any fruit.
Nobody knows why this happens. However, it is for these shortages of our precious fruit that we keep our olive oil within the community. If we were to mass-produce like big commercialized olive oil companies, then we would run the risk of not keeping up with the demand. In turn, that would hurt the people we love the most–our friends and family.
However, the years when olives don’t grow are few and far in between. Luckily for us, these trees sprout a bunch of beautiful dark green and deep black olives. On one branch, anywhere from 10 to 40 olives will sprout. The olives that we grow on our land are typically small and bursting with flavor. Whether you’re a green olive fan or a black olive fan, your taste buds will be entranced by these ripe fruits.
How Many Kilos Does One Olive Tree Produce?
In one year, approximately 10 million metric tons of olives are produced throughout the entire world. Of those 10 million metric tons, one million metric tons are used to produce bottled olives used for the table. While the rest, a whopping 9 million metric tons are milled and pressed into olive oil.
This takes a lot of trees to do. When an olive tree reaches around four years after germination, it begins to hit maturity. From then until the end of its life, the olive tree will produce about 15 to 20 kilograms of olive oil. You don’t even have to do the math to know it doesn’t add up…that’s not enough to keep up with the demand of olive oil.
That is why many companies mass produce olive oil in factories using techniques that jeopardize the oil’s nutrients and flavor. They take the love out of the olive oil. Due to these compromises, we have decided to keep our product close to home. We do not want to destroy the quality, flavor, or nutrition of our olives. We make just enough to ensure that our community’s needs are met.
How Many Olives are Needed to Make 1 Litre of Oil?
Believe it or not, the smaller the olive is, the more oil it can actually yield. When an olive is ripe, you can produce up to 30% oil from the tiny fruit. The size of an olive varies, but in general, they weigh between 3 and 12 grams. This means that it takes around 3 kilograms of olives to produce approximately 1 litre of olive oil. Seeing as how small olives are, 1 litre of olive oil can take upwards of 5,000 olives to produce!
We know everyone loves our olives and we love to share the joy, which is why we allow people to collect olives from our very own trees. However, to ensure that we meet the demand of producing our olive oil, we ask that olive collectors write us a request six months prior to picking.
While our gardens are known to produce more than enough olives, many factors can alter production. The amount of rainfall, the conditions of the soil, and the health of the tree can all impact the growth of olives. As the growing season begins we can then assess how many olives we can part with. Once we take these factors into consideration, we are more than happy to share what is left with the rest of the community.
When and how to Pick Olives
Black olives are really just a ripened green olive. So, if you are looking to pick green table olives, then you want to start picking around September. You want to get these olives before they become ripened. Green olive season will last through October. By the end of October, the green olive is starting to ripen. It is then that black olive season begins.
While many companies start their black olive harvests in October, we find that a little too early. A majority of the olives at this time are predominantly green. They have a bit more ripening to do.
That is why our harvests take place in November and December. At this point, the olives turn from a greenish hue to the purplish black.
The key to getting the perfect olive is to pick it when it’s three-fourths of a way done with its transformation. When the olives still have hints of their previous green exterior poking out, the product will have a lower acidity level, yet still give the olive its tangy, peppery kick. This delicate balance makes for a smoother tasting olive.
For most, olives are hand-picked. Traditionally, families would get together in the groves and spend all day picking the fruits together. To do so, first they would lay a canopy tarp around the trunk of the olive tree.
From there, they would take a rake and pull down on the leaves. This would cause the olives to fall to the ground. Thankfully, the tarp covering the floor saves the olives from bruising.
While we hold many of our family traditions near, we use a different method to harvest our olives. The tarp may stop the olives from bruising, but all that raking can damage the branches and leaves of the tree.
We found a great compromise in saving the tree’s prosperity and saving our time. Our family uses a machine that vibrates the trunk. Aptly called “Trunk Shakers,” we just drive the machine up to the trunk. It wraps around the base and gives the tree a gentle shake, allowing the olives to fall into a tarp attached. This still ensures the olive will not get bruised, while the actual shaker ensures the tree maintains its integrity.
How to Make Olive Oil from Olives
This is where we share our family’s deepest secrets…just kidding! In fact, if you want to come to our land, you can watch us turn your olives into oil. Then, you too are a part of the family and we can let you in on even more secrets!
Once all the olives are picked, they are collected from the tarp. Before we make the oil, the first step, like any first step in handling food, we must clean the olives. Anything that anyone consumes should always be cleaned off.
To clean the olive, make sure that any stems, twigs, dirt, or leaves are removed. You don’t want to grind these items up into the oil. They are not intended to be consumed. Not to mention that any sand or rock left attached to the olive can damage the equipment used to make the olive oil.
Using a blower, you can blow away any contaminants that are lightly attached to the fruit. Once complete, place into a water bath. Any heavy materials, such as metals, that may have blown into the olive by the wind will sink to the bottom.
After the olives are pristine, they are ready to be ground into a paste. We mill the olive into a jelly-like structure. From there, we take the olive paste and press it. When pressure is applied to the paste, it forces the oils out of the center. From there, we bottle the oil and it is ready to transform all of your meals into healthier, more delicious dishes.
Types of Olive Oil
When something is as wonderful as olive oil is, corporations will jump on board, water down the concept, and sell a cheap knock off that lacks nutrients. Whenever you do purchase olive oil, be sure to check the label to make sure you are getting a quality product. Better yet, just get it from us because then you will know it’s authentic.
When checking out the label, the olive oil will be labeled one of five ways.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This is the purest oil. It derives from the first pressing that olives go through. That is the most concentrated batch of olive oil. The olives used are typically harvested within the past 24 hours. To extract extra virgin olive oil, there must be no chemical solvents used. Also, the fruits may not be put under excessive heat. The cutoff is 28 C. Lastly, the acidity level can not reach the max of 0.8%.
- Virgin Olive Oil
To create virgin olive oil, the oil must also be extracted from the first pressing of freshly harvested olives. What separates virgin olive oil from extra virgin olive oil is the acidity level. Virgin olive oil can have up to 2% acidity levels. This makes for a milder, less intense flavor.
- Refined Olive Oil
These oils are extracted with the use of chemical solvents. This include anything from acids, alkalis, or heat. These methods are done to yield as much oil from the olive pulp that is the byproduct of the first pressing. Therefore, whatever is being extracted is not highly concentrated. In the end, more cholesterol and fatty acids are added to the final product. The taste profile becomes diminished, so it is then cut with a little virgin olive oil or extra virgin olive oil. When buying oils, keep a lookout for the words, “Partially Hydrogenated.” That is an indication of a bad product.
- Olive Pomace Oil
This oil also comes from the second pressing of the olive pulp. Using heat or a chemical solvent such as hexane, the oils of the olive leftovers are extracted. From there, the oil is put through a refining process, further stripping the product of its flavor and antioxidants. The end result is olive pomace oil.
- Lampante Oil
This is the worst of the worst. This oil was originally defected and could not be consumed by humans. Therefore, it was put through a refining process to make it barely passable for human taste.
Obviously, we only make the finest oils. To schedule a delivery of our oil, visit our land, or purchase some trees, please contact us at +306973977382. Welcome to our family.