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…?
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
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