Cretan olive tree: The secret of the quality of Cretan olive oil

The Cretan olive tree is a landmark of Crete for thousands of years. And the quality of the Cretan extra virgin olive oil has a lot to do with it.

The Cretan olive tree is a very sturdy tree that is perfectly adjusted to the unique climate of the island. And this especial kind of olive tree is the secret to the exceptional taste and quality of the Cretan olive oil.

The olive tree is an amazing tree that can resist extended periods of drought, and it can even grow near the sea, where the water is salty. But perhaps the most amazing thing about the olive tree is that even after it is cut, new olive tree sprouts will come out from the tree’s stump. Olive trees live pretty much longer than a human does – most of them stand proudly in their place for more than 500 years.

The olive tree history in Crete - and what it has to do with the quality of the Cretan extra virgin olive oil

Millions of olive trees are growing in Crete. And this bond between the Cretan people and the olive trees is a very old one: according to historians, the olive trees were grown in Crete long before the Minoan years, more than 4 thousand years ago.

In the Chania region, where Psaroudakis S.A. is located, and specifically in the village of Ano Vouves, there is an olive tree that is considered the oldest in the world. Although for such old trees researchers can only estimate their age, it is certainly more than 2.000 years old, and the most possible estimation for its age is to be around 4.000 years old!

All these millennia of olive tree cultivation on the island have a lot to do with the quality of Cretan olive oil. It is the adjustment of the ancient olive trees in the microclimate of Crete that gives the local olives – and the local olive oil – their characteristic full flavour.

It is a secret among historians that the olive tree and the olive oil have played a large role in the development of the Minoan civilization, and later in the rapid growth of the ancient Greek civilization. It is not a coincidence that the olive tree was considered a sacred tree in ancient Athens, as it was the tree of Athena, the patron god of Athens. And it is also not a coincidence that the prize for the winners in the ancient Olympic Games was a laurel wreath made of wild olive tree branches…

Cretan olive tree harvesting secrets - how they contribute to the excellent quality of the Cretan extra virgin olive oil

The secrets of harvesting the Cretan olive tree have passed from generation to generation for thousands of years. The time of the harvest is generally the time when the majority of the olives on the tree have changed their colour.

The way the harvesting is done is crucial for the quality of the Cretan olive oil that will be produced. Most of the times, the tree branches are hit with sticks in order for the olives to fall down, where there are nets to collect them. In order to get the best quality of extra virgin olive oil, the olives must get to the oil press as soon as possible – usually no more than a day later after they were collected.

There are certain secrets for the exceptional quality of the Cretan extra virgin olive oil. But the most important is the unique nature of the imposing, still, silent, and centuries-old inhabitants of the island: the Cretan olive trees.