Every autumn, large nets are placed under Messinia’s olive groves to collect olives. It is not by chance that Messinian olive oil has gained global recognition. Messinia and the neighboring area of Laconia have a historical tradition of growing olives, thanks to the vast plains, gentle mountains and hills that dominate most of the region.
Messenian olive groves
According to archaeological findings, olive oil production was already practiced in Messinia in ancient Greece, as evidenced by, among other things, the large clay olive oil container unearthed at Nestor’s palace in Pylos. Messenian olive groves, one of the oldest in Greece, boast about 15 million olive trees, predominantly of the Koroneiki type, used to create olive oil. Below are pictures from Nestor palace that really should be on your “must-see” list.
The olive tree is not only an integral part of the region’s landscape but also a symbol of peace, wisdom and prosperity. The history of Messinia is deeply intertwined with the olive tree, and this rich cultural heritage continues to be celebrated in modern times. The Messinian Chamber of Commerce and Industries states that there are approximately 460 active oil-producing companies in the Prefecture of Messinia, a large number of which have received awards for their products in Greek and global competitions. Below is a very efficient team picking the olives in West Mani.
As the demand for high-quality olive oil continues to grow worldwide, the future of Messinian olive oil looks promising. The region’s commitment to tradition, quality and sustainability ensures that Messinian olive oil will remain a highly sought-after product for years to come.
Olive picking at our home?
Of course, olives are picked and olive oil is pressed at our home in Nomitsi too! We have about 20 olive trees and do not need to buy olive oil for home use. However, it is not an easy job and we are happy and grateful to have the help of local experienced olive pickers. This year we were helped by Hermes and his team from Cleaning Garden (link to the FB page here) in Stoupa. Estia of course supervised the whole work!
We have around 20 olive trees and it takes 3-4 hours before the sacks are filled with the olive fruit. Both Hermes and his friend helped a friend of ours pick from her olive trees and then it was time to have dinner together. Hermes wanted a Swedish dinner but I always have my own secret recipes that neither come from my home country Poland nor my second country Sweden, nor my third country Greece. They worked from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. without a single break, phew… Since they were happy with the food, I hope they will come back next year as well!
In the evening we got help to transport the sacks to an olive press in Agios Nikolaos. The next day we waited about 2 hours to bring home the cans with the olive oil. It’s always fun to visit the olive press, even if it’s too noisy for me. This year was not a good year for the olives, we only got 25 kg of the green gold… But the taste, the taste, wow, divine! We “dipped” the bread in the oil right away that evening!
Do you want to season and flavor your olive oil yourself?
The fastest lunch at our house is flavored olive oil, feta cheese, tomatoes and bread! Try our own blend: chili, garlic and lemon zest. Yum! If you don’t have your own olive oil, be sure to choose a good quality oil. Also remember that if you want to use fresh herbs, the shelf life of your olive oil will not be very long! A home-seasoned olive oil will keep for about 2-3 weeks, so mix small amounts at a time. Below Elias and my tip for a flavored olive oil:
- Rinse the chili fruit, scrub the lemon and peel the garlic
- Cut the chili with household scissors and use a potato peeler to peel the lemon into strips and crush the garlic lightly with the blade of a knife
- Take a clean bottle, add your flavorings almost to the top with the olive oil
- Want to make your own pickled olives? The recipe on the blog under the link here
- Experience Messina during the olive harvest: book a long-term rental through Housefinders Peloponnese
- Do you want to own your own olive grove? Check out our plots in West Mani! Especially in a plot in Kastania, EKJ1910, where you can pick about 950 kg of olive oil 🙂