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Olives – Olive oil

Olives – Olive oil


Olive oil, a typical product of Mani, is famous for its taste and its superior and special quality.

Over the centuries, people in Mani secured their survival by cultivating olive trees and producing olive oil. They consumed and used olive oil on a daily basis. They stored it in earthenware jars inside the earth to maintain its quality, and also used it as a natural preservative to keep foods intact for a long time. Even today, olive oil production is the main source of income for families in Mani. The fact that there is at least one oil press in almost every village of the peninsula reveals the importance of olive oil for the whole region.

In Mani, olives and olive oil are inextricably linked with the Christian faith. Churches are lit by candles burning oil, children are smeared with oil during Christening, while during the mystery of the Holy Unction Christians are blessed with holy oil.

The Peloponnese has historically been one of the most important oil producing areas in Greece. In 1830, the olive trees cultivated in the geographical area of Mani were more than 70% of the olive trees cultivated in the rest of Greece.

All the above, along with the classification of the olive oil produced in Mani as one of the qualitatively superior 19th century Greek oils, underline the importance of the geographical area of Mani in the Greek map of oil production.

In 1915, in a community called Petrina, the locals founded the first cooperative of olive tree growers and olive oil producers in Greece, under the name “Agricultural Cooperative of Petrina”. “Petrina” olive oil has been a European product with a protected designation of origin (PDO) since 1996.

Did you know that…?

  • The olive tree is a universal symbol of peace, prosperity, knowledge, wisdom and hope.
  • Allegedly, the olive tree in its wild form first appeared in Greece in 1200 BC but, according to historians, was cultivated for the first time by the Syrians or the Minoans between 3500-2500 BC. In ancient times, in Greece, olive oil had many uses and the olive tree was connected to culture, religion, diet and health.
  • Ancient Greeks attributed their physical strength and mental wellbeing to olive oil consumption and according to the father of Medicine, Hippocrates, olive oil was considered beneficial for more than 60 ailments.
  • Modern medicine confirms that olive oil is beneficial to health and is considered the key to good health and longevity. It has been found that there is a direct correlation between consumption of olive oil and reduction of the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, hypertension, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, ulcer and impotence. It is also connected to the growth of the body and anti-ageing.
  • Greece offers 60% of its cultivated land to olive growing and has more olive varieties than any other country. Greece holds the first place in world black olive production and the third place in world olive oil production after Italy and Spain.
  • Scientific and medical studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is the best longevity recipe.
  • According to the principles of the Mediterranean diet, a daily intake of fruits and vegetables, legumes, pasta, bread, cereal, rice, dairy products, and especially olive oil is necessary for the building of a strong and healthy body.
  • In 1996, “Petrina” olive oil was registered as a European Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product. Its certification was published in the Official Journal of the European Communities No. L 148, 21.6.1996 and was signed by the Austrian Franz Fischler, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.
  • Olive oil is used in soap manufacturing. The process by which ash (lye), water and olive oil are mixed to produce natural glycerin and salt, what in everyday language we call “soap”, is called “saponification”. In the past, every woman in Mani knew how to make soap.


In 2010, Unesco included the Mediterranean diet on the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, following a request made jointly by Italy (the promoter), Greece, Spain and Morocco.

1951: “Petrina” olive oil was awarded the “Gold Medal with Honours” at the 16th Thessaloniki International Fair.

1952: More award winning for “Petrina”: at the 17th Thessaloniki International Fair it was awarded the “Grand Prize”.

1954: One more distinction for “Petrina” olive oil at the 19th Thessaloniki International Fair where it was awarded the “Diploma of Honour” with a “Gold Medal”.

1980: The Ministry of Agriculture awards the Petrina Olive Oil Cooperative a prize for its innovative technique in olive oil cooperative extraction and marketing.

Phrases and sayings about olive oil

“From wheat harvesting till olive picking there is no lack of jobs”, means that there is a lot of work to do in agriculture all through the summer until the end of autumn.

“If you don’t press the olive, you don’t get oil”: just as you have to press olives to produce oil, so you need to work hard to be successful.

“Those who have wheat, wine and olive oil in the jar have everything they can wish for and the grace of God” means that those who have these three products at home are rich and blessed.

“Neither with oil nor with vinegar does he go down”: we say this for a person with such a bad character that there is no way you can like them.

“How can we start a journey without oil or vinegar?”  This phrase is used to show that we cannot do a job unless we have the necessary supplies.

“Courgettes with oil for dinner, somersaults during the night” is used to show that courgettes are not a substantial meal.

“He pressed the oil out of me” means that he made me work very hard.

“Unload the burden from the olive tree and it will load you with oil.” If you prune the olive tree, it will give a lot of olive oil.

“He is like water in oil” used metaphorically for someone who is pure and innocent.

“He’s pouring oil on the fire” means that with what one says and with their attitude they help start an argument.

The olive and olive oil glossary…

agourolado: the first olive oil of the season

alatsolies: salted olives

aletrividiaris: worker at the oil press

aletrividio: oil press

amouria: sediment left after treating olive oil

askia: animal hides used for carrying olive oil

axagia: payment to the oil press. For each olive “modi” the owner keeps 100 drams of oil

baskia: old wooden presses where olive oil was separated from broken stones. They consisted of two plates one on top of the other. The one below did not move while the one above descended slowly by means of a screw

depla: wooden stick used for hitting olive tree branches during olive harvesting

dormpades or dorvades: big envelope-shaped flax sacks where olive paste was put before it was placed under the press

elaiodis: containing oil

elaiografia: oil painting

elaiohroma: oil paint

elaiohromatismos: painting with oil paints

elaiokarpos: olive

elaiokomia: scientific olive tree growing

elaiopiestirio: press used for pressing olives

elaiopyrinas: olive core

elaiourgia: olive oil processing

fabrika: oil press

flaska:  gourd container for measuring oil

gigoumia: tin cans

hamouri: slurry left after pressing olives

hamouriera: metal tank where olive pulp (chamouri) is collected

kapes or paletses: burlap or cotton fabric for laying olives

kapira: toasted bread dipped in “agourolado”

katsigaros: sediment left after olive oil treatment

kioupia- Pitharia: large clay pots for storing olive oil

kolympades: olives in brine

koronioi: large clay pots with interior enamel coating (glass) for storing olive oil

ksydoulies: ripe olives in vinegar

ladadiko: store where oil is sold

ladas: olive oil producer or merchant

lademporos: olive oil dealer

ladero: small container for olive oil

laderos: prepared with oil, consumed during Lenten, having too much oil

ladia: oil stain

ladiko: olive oil can

ladila: the smell of oil

ladis: having the colour of oil

ladoharto: transparent waterproof paper

ladolemono: lemon and oil sauce

ladono: smear with oil

ladopano: the cloth which infants are wrapped after baptism

ladopsomo: bread smeared with oil

ladoxido: oil and vinegar mix

lagini: tin plated container with a capacity of 6.5 okas

limpes: oil containers at oil mills

liotrivi: oil press

mastrapas: metal container where the oil coming out of the wooden press (baski) was collected . In many parts of Hellenism such as Rhodes, Kos and Cyprus this word is still in use.

mazohto: the way olives are picked

mazohtres, mazohtades: tool used for picking olives by hand

maxouli: annual produce

mistata: olive oil measurement unit

modi: olive oil production measurement unit (1 “modi” = 500 okas of olive oil = 640 kgr of olive oil)

mourga:  dregs in olive oil after treatment

neratzolies: green thick olives

oka: measurement unit

oxytita: qualitative evaluation criterion for olive oil. It is measured in grams of free oleic acid per 100 gr fatty matter (degree of acidity)

polimi: cistern in front of the press for gathering the liquid that came out of the press (oil and water) after “thermization”

rafinarisma: olive oil chemical treatment

roi: oil tank

sgournes: stone or concrete tank where the juice from olives is collected after pressing

spastolies: crushed olives

stama: process of separating olive oil from pulp

stetis: person whose work is to place dormpades in the press

tagaria: pipes through which “amouri” is drained outside the oil mill

taximi: small tank where “amouri” is stored

thermisma: the process by which hot water is thrown over the “tsoupia” in the press.

tsantiles: dormpades, big envelope-shaped flax sacks where olive paste was put before it was placed under the press

tsoupia: big envelope-shaped flax sacks where olive paste was put before it was placed under the press