Different Greek olive varieties play a significant role in determining an olive’s color, shape, and flavor. There are many Greek olive varieties for oil growing throughout the country, but today I will peak about 15 olive types in this article which I believe is the most widespread and known olives in Greece.
Knowing which Greek olive variety is used to make an olive oil will tell you a lot about the quality and flavor of olive oil. Eventually, you will no longer get lost in a market among a massive selection of various olive oils and will help you to make the right decision when choosing your brand of the best quality olive oil.
1. Koroneiki Olives
The Koroneiki olives are the most prized among Greek olive varieties for oil production harvesting in Kalamata, Messenia, the beautiful Peloponnese region. Kalamata is a unique area in Greece as it generates some of the best greek extra virgin olive oil well known in the world.
This olive variety grows well on mountain slopes and produces very small green fruit; the high ratio of skin to flesh giving the oil its coveted aromatic qualities. The primarily type of olive is Koroneiki mainly present in the southern Peloponnese and in some areas of Crete. The Koroneiki olives are Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), mainly used for oil, and are ranked as the best in the world for their balanced taste and health benefits. More about European PDOs you can find here.
The Koroneiki olives variety is also suited to the production of agourelaio, oil from olives that are slightly unripe (young harvest). When crushed in presses that are not capable of grinding the stone, this oil is entirely free of acidity and possesses top-tier organoleptic characteristics. Because not crushing the stones reduces the oil yield, production of agourélaio is limited to “boutique” presses run by entrepreneurs and small cooperatives.
The Koroneiki olives are relatively small size, however, their trees yield a high amount of fruits. The olives are harvested when they are still green in order to ensure the title of “early picked” or “green” olive oils. Normally the juice of the olives extracted when the fruit is young has the best quality of the oil. And it is great to prevent a heart and other diseases. The Koroneiki olives yield approximately 6 to 7 liters of the best Greek olive oil. The oil is golden-green in color and is highly applauded for its fruity and fresh flavor.
2. Kalamata Olives
Kalamata olives named after the city of Kalamata in Messenia, southern Greece. Known as the king of Greek table olives, beloved and popular Kalamata olives are deep purple, with tight, snappy, shiny skin, and pretty almond shape. They are typically well-preserved in olive oil and/or in red wine vinegar, red wine for a uniquely rich, smoky, fruity flavor.
The Kalamata olives are PDO protected under the European Protected Geographical Status scheme and suitable for both table olives and olive oil.
3. Athenolia Olives
Athenolia olive fruit has a medium-size olive shape is collected matured from the end of December until the beginning of January. When the Koroneiki and Athenolia olives are mixed together to acquire wonderful full-bodied, balanced, and flavorful extra virgin olive oil.
4. Black Olives
Black olives are a typically Greek type of olive which has been allowed to fully ripen on the tree before harvesting. The distinctive characteristic which gives them the name “Greek” is the lack of lye in the de-bittering process.
Black olives have a variety of colors: red-violet-black to purple and deep black. They have a fleshy and slightly fruity taste.
5. Green olives
Green olives come from varieties in Chalkidiki a region in Northern Greece. Their characteristic is large-sized berries, bright green-yellow color and slightly bitter taste while they lack in grassiness. They are harvested by hand from September to October. And after pitting they are re-evaluated in large tanks so that only the best berries will be served on the table.
6. Chalkidiki Olives
The Chalkidiki or Halkidiki olives grow exclusively in Greece in the Mount Athos region. They have an elongated and asymmetrical shape and their color ranges from bright to pale green. And they come in a large size, thus aptly naming them as donkey olives. They are harvested young and go through a curing process to remove the bitterness and make them soft and palatable. Chalkidiki olives are mostly stuffed with red peppers, garlic, gurken, or almonds.
7. Amfissa Olives
Amfissa olives are grown in Delphi or Evia region. Once hand-picked they are completely ripe after which they are slow brine-cured. Amfissa olives have a mild fruity aroma and a soft texture. That is why they are often served with stews, soups and strong cheese.
8. Konservolia Olives
Konservolia olives are another most popular olive variety devoured in Greece. These olives are spherical and are harvested green. Konservolia olives are later treated with salt. Thus giving them their most popular wrinkly form and purple or black color. Konservolia olives are produced in most parts of Greece and are protected by the P.D.O.
9. Ladolia Olives
Spherical-shaped olives and have a light golden-yellow color, with a light grassy herbal taste.
10. Meagron Olives
The green olives are cured, brine, and packaged for oil. Whereas the black ones are dry-cured in salt till they develop wrinkles.
11. Nafplion Olives
These olives are hand-picked, cracked, and cured in brine to extract their nutty and slightly smoky-flavored oil.
12. Patrinia Olives
Patrinia olives have a high oil concentrate of around 25%. This oil is known for its mild fruity flavor and aroma.
13. Thasitiki Olives
The Thasitiki olives are mostly black when matured and wrinkly form as table olives.
Conclusion: Greek Olive Varieties For Oil
As you have noticed there are many olive varieties with specific characteristics that impact olive oil quality and flavor. In fact, 65% of olive oil production in Greece comes from the Peloponnese region. That means that the most dominant Greek olive variety for oil is Koroneiki olives. So if you had a chance to visit the southern part of Greece and taste their olive oil, there are many chances that it was Koroneiki extra virgin olive oil.
Hope this article helped you to explore different Greek olive varieties for oil production and will be useful for you to choose the best olive oil brands in the future!