My Olive Picking Adventure in Kyparissia!
Olive oil has a rich and magical history in Greece. The country’s landscape is dotted with millions of majestic olive trees that are deeply entwined with the country’s culture and offers locals and visitors alike lots of opportunities to connect with nature and experience olive farming traditions up close.
The olive harvest season takes place between October and January and is traditionally a family/community affair with people of all ages. It’s also the ideal time for travelers looking for an interactive holiday in Greece . . . that will allow you to enjoy and immerse yourself in every stage of the olive harvest while giving you a taste of rural living.
Last week, together with friends, I enjoyed a really special olive harvesting adventure at a farmstead located a short walk from the Kyparissia Archaeological Site of Peristeria, 8 km northeast of Kyparissia (in the region of Messenia, Peloponnese, southern Greece) . . . a place that has been declared as one of the primary centers of the First-Mycenaean Civilization in Greece . . . that we visited and of course, made our visit to the area even more special.
Upon our arrival, Panagiotis (our host) greeted us with a warm welcome and treated us to some of the farmstead’s bounty that included, apart from Greek coffee and other beverages, the best fresh pomegranate seeds I’ve tasted, homemade quince and fig spoon sweets and of course, some of his outstanding Kalamata olives and luscious tasting extra-virgin olive oil from his organically farmed Koroneiki olive groves, which are mainly harvested by hand each year and are renowned for their low acidity.
To be honest with you during my time as the Culinary Educator of Greece in the USA, many years ago, I had often accompanied groups of journalists as well as olive oil enthusiasts to various islands in Greece and watched the magic of making olive oil. I had however, never had the opportunity to hand pick olives for hours directly from the trees, something that turned out to be a truly rewarding and exhilarating experience that left us all a bit exhausted but happy . . . and famished . . . ready to enjoy and indulge in a gorgeous tasting Greek meal fit for a king!
As you will see from the photos below, apart from the delish homemade spinach pie, salad, Feta cheese and olives, the feast was highlighted by the main course that consisted of locally procured baby goat with potatoes, scented with fresh rosemary, a little garlic, olive oil & coarse black pepper . . . and cooked in the picturesque outdoor wood burning brick oven with outstanding results!
After resting and a quick lesson on how to cure the olives I picked upon my return to Athens ( curing olives is essential to the process of making them tasty to enjoy because olives straight off of the tree are very bitter to eat) we left already looking forward to our next visit that we hope will be sooner than later!
Being a part of the day’s harvesting process honoring the gifts of the Greek soil . . . left us all with a pleasant aftertaste that gave us a sense of satisfaction that I feel made our lives a bit brighter!
Thank you Panagiotis for a lovely and
truly unique experience!
By the way, if anybody is interested in experiencing olive picking using any of the number of harvesting techniques . . . for just one or number of days next year (2023) don’t hesitate to contact me as this type of experience can easily be arranged!
For those not familiar with the whole harvesting process, it can also include helping transferring the olives to the traditional or modern olive press, following the art of extracting the precious oil and watching as the golden liquid begins to flow and fills the air with aromatic fragrance . . . before being filled up into bottles or appropriate containers.
Last but not least, keep in mind that Greece produces some of the best extra virgin olive oil in the world . . . and talking from experience . . . once you have tasted a chunk of country style bread dipped into the freshly pressed golden/greenish liquid . . . . you’ll understand why!