Dear friend of Ikaria
Are you an olive lover? I am! And in this story I will tell you all about olives, olive harvesting and our divine olive oil.
Olive harvesting is one of the important seasonal jobs of a typical Ikarian (or even a Greek) household. Every year from the end of October until the end of the olive season you’ll find many Ikarians out in the fields.
Olives for the daily table
The olives used for oil are the last ones to be harvested. The first olives – that are carefully picked one by one by hand - are intended for the daily table, just enough to be self-sufficient for at least one year.
We have many recipes for olives, according to moment of the season. At the beginning of the olive season, while the olives are still green, the most juicy, big and ‘clean’ olives (free from any spots) are picked by hand. These olives are either crushed with a small stone, lined and debittered for about 10 days. Then we put them into salty water, together with some fennel. In about a month they are ready to consume.
A little later in the season we also put other olives in salty fennel water (just as they are, without pretreatment) and then they are ready in about 6 months.
Another delicious recipe: collect the mature black olives one by one. Salt them, line them and put them in vinegar and olive oil.
The olives in the above recipes can be conserved for about a year and you’ll always find them on the daily table of an Ikarian family.
A speciality: Hourmades
What you won't find elsewhere is the “Hourmades”, a variety of olives that are ready to consume on the spot, so while still hanging on the tree! They taste quite sweet but unfortunately they don't last a long time. The older generations used to have them for breakfast, accompanied by a herb tea, goat cheese and rusks. A delicious combination!
Recipe-instructions for the Hourmades are easy: 1. collect, 2. put salt, 3. eat!
Olives for oil
All the other olives are going to become oil. In the olive harvesting, we again see the social spirit of the island. The Ikarians that don’t have olive trees, go and help those that have. Instead of money they get olive oil in return. Or they get a field with olive trees, and give the owner half of the harvest.
Another delicious thing: Kapira
One of my best child memories is when we would bring the olives to the oil mill. While we were waiting for the oil the workers would offer us “Kapira”: toasted bread, salted and sprinkled with some fresh hot olive oil. Heaven for your palate!
Hope you enjoyed the content ...
Mazari G. Eleni