Following a suggestion by Marilyn Rooks, we paid a quick visit at the end of November to the olive press (Elaiourgeio) of the Agricultural Union (Enosi Agrotikon Synetairismon) which operates from late October until the beginning of January.
Olives are brought in sacks to the press with every 7-8 kilos of olives expected to produce approximately 1 kilo of oil. Each batch is given a number and added to the queue for the press. The oil can usually be collected later the same day, or, during particularly busy periods, the following day.
People bring their own containers and pay just 3.42 euros for each 10 kilos of oil produced from their olives.
Vassilis Peripanos was kind enough to explain the pressing process to us.
After weighing, the olives are loaded to a compartment which takes out and discards any remaining leaves, then they are fed into a trough for washing. Next they are cut into pieces and pass into 1,000 litre containers and heated at a temperature of 25-30 degrees for about half an hour. During "malaxation" (mixing), they are gently churned and turned to paste. Next the oil is extracted from the paste, the residual paste discarded and finally the oil is separated from any water remaining.
The oil is pressed only once, which results in a high quality virgin oil. Keeping the temperature of the press low is also important to the quality of the oil which is purer when lower temperatures are used.
The highest quality oil contains the lowest acidity levels. Virgin olive oil must have an acidity level of not more than 1.5% as well as having a perfect aroma, flavour and colour standard. Extra virgin olive oil must have an acidity level of not more than 1%.
This year's olive oil will be available for sale from the Agricultural Union shop in the main square in Paroikia from around the end of December.
Olive oil should be stored in a dark, cool place and is better kept in dark glass bottles, large tins, stainless steel containers or glazed ceramic pots. Never store olive oil in plastic containers, as some plastic compounds may be absorbed into the oil. Oil is best used within a year, but should certainly be discarded after two years as it will start to turn rancid.
Our thanks to Vassilis Peripanos for explaining the process to us and to Marilyn Rooks for the idea.
The olive press is located on the old road to Naoussa on the left-hand side (coming from Paroikia) just past the main Agricultural Union buildings.
For further information, contact Georgos Loukis on 22840-22183 or 22840-22235.