2017 harvest and health claim!
Now that the harvesting period has come to an end, all the while our precious olive oil rests and separates itself from the amurca in a specially made inox container, it is perhaps the best time to write a few words concerning this year’s crop and its unique quality characteristics.
Following our usual timetable and organic practices (spaying the trees with organic fungicide copper for protection and adding organic manure to enrich the soil a.o.) we reached the end of the summer completely exhausted by the heat, the lack of rain and the relentless arson fires on some of the last remaining forests on the island.
As usual, we decided to start harvesting as early as possible, this year at the mid of October, and while our olives where for the most part green, that is, unripe, a crucial factor in producing high quality extra virgin olive oil. The general image however of our trees, before and during the harvesting period, was a bit problematic: the trees where dehydrated, baring a small number of fruits, which however were as healthy as they come, mainly due to the lack of water. Thankfully, it finally rained, just when things were becoming unbearable, and then it suddenly turned into a hail storm, twice, which made things tense again. In the end, with a few periods of long-awaited rainfalls we finally reached the end of harvesting, and simultaneously crushing, our olives.
Over all, this year’s crop had this main characteristic: the lack of rain and subsequently the absence of the island’s typical high humidity levels, for a very long -and crucial for the trees- time. And although this very fact had us, and the olive trees alike, all stressed out, in the end the fruits we gathered, small in size and in numbers, were undoubtedly of the highest possible quality: Particularly dryland- farmed, as healthy as they come and relatively unripe, our olives were harvested with patience and care and, shortly after, transported and crushed at an organic certified olive press factory near our estate.
The results of our year-long efforts are apparent in both the taste and aromas of our crop, as well as in the Certificate of Analysis* we received from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, which confirms our olive oil’s excellence due to its “anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cardioprotective and neuroprotective activity”.
Let us explain: Apart from the fact that there are numerous factors affecting the final quality of an Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), the familiar classification of virgin and extra virgin, based on acidity, is not enough to determine an EVOO’s positive effect on our health. On the bright side, it is nowadays possible and rather easy to test and certify whether an EVOO is truly “good for you”, thanks to a special analysis , such as the one you’ll see at the end of the post*, based on the levels of two specific, and very important polyphenols, called Oleocanthal and Oleacein.
Oleacein is the most powerful antioxidant constituent of olive oil, while Oleocanthal has an anti-inflammatory effect similar to Ibuprofen and is also known for offering protection against tumor growth, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and aging! It is thus an indisputable fact that the daily consumption of an EVOO with a high concentration of these specific polyphenols, contributes in the protection and general improvement of one’s health! Τhat is why, for instance, patients with cardiovascular diseases in particular, are advised to add such a product in their daily diet and therefore receive it’s healthful effects.
As stated before, there are many factors affecting the final quality of olive oil, and specifically the levels of Oleocanthal and Oleacein, many of whom are invariable, such as the location of the olive grove and the variety of the olive trees. The renowned greek Koroneiki variety, for instance, which covers 95% of our olive grove, has been proved to have the highest concentration of these polyphenols among the varieties tested!
The variable factors have to do first and foremost, with the weather, the one truly in charge of our nutrition and everything else, but also with each farmer’s executive decisions and practices. Most important, for the subject under discussion, is the exact time of harvest. What has been commonly known for centuries, that fresh olive oil from unripe olives is the best for one’s health, is now proven and explained: Early harvest olive oil has the highest concentration of Oleocanthal and Oleacein. That means that, besides the positive effect harvesting early has on the trees themselves, (it relieves them from furthermore nurturing their fruits and allows them to rest longer before the upcoming crop), it is also undoubtedly a crucial decision, concerning the quality and healthfulness of the final product.
Let us finally note, the importance of learning how to evaluate olive oil, by using our senses and appreciating its flavors and aromas. As consumers, most of us are used to mild flavors, specially designed to be preferred by the majority and thus maximize consumption. However, an olive oil rich in Oleocanthal, far from being mild-flavored, has that typical bitterness of early harvested oils, while high levels of Oleacein deliver a spicy, pungent flavor. It seems that, knowing where, how and by whom your food was produced, is not enough to guarantee it’s quality. We, simultaneously, have to re-educate ourselves, as consumers, in appreciating and enjoying more sophisticated and beneficial flavors such as the ones you’ll find in our own pleasant and deliberate case:
Spicy, bitter and fruity, with acidity levels as low as 0,28%*, Sarakina Estate’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil, awaits for you to enjoy it and gain double the satisfaction: Both from its unique flavors and aromas and from the indisputable fact of its numerous benefits for your health.
To be consumed without moderation!