Why the production of Cretan extra virgin olive oil in Chania is different

The extra virgin olive oil production in Chania follows the traditional Cretan way of producing olive oil. In Crete, tradition plays a large role in producing one of the best extra virgin olive oils in the world. But for Chania olive oil, there’s more than a rich tradition.

In addition to the natural way the olives are processed and pressed, according to the Cretan tradition, the Chania region has a special climate that contributes greatly to producing a top quality extra virgin olive oil.

Let’s find out more about the way olive oil is produced in Crete, and in Chania in particular.

How the Cretan extra virgin olive oil is produced in Chania

The “secret” of producing the top quality extra virgin olive oil of Chania, has to do with two simple factors: The unique climate of Chania, and the natural way that olive oil is extracted from the olives.

The climate of the Chania region combines the warm weather of south Greece with the relatively rainy weather of West Greece (Chania is the westernmost region of Crete). This specific combination is perfect for the production of aromatic, fruity olives, which in turn make the fine extra virgin olive oil of the Chania region, with its characteristic aroma and taste.

The way of producing olive oil from the olives is also very crucial for the quality of the final product. In Chania, and in Crete in general, the olives are cold-pressed, without the use of high temperatures, or any other chemical processes in general, which results in a very pure olive oil with tremendous benefits for our health. You can find details for this fine processing procedure below.

It is worth noting that this natural processing procedure is very common in Chania, Crete, and most parts of Greece, but it is not equally common in other countries, including countries that are big producers of olive oil. This is one of the reasons that around 80% of the olive oil produced in Greece is extra virgin of the highest quality, when for example only 50% of the olive oil produced in Spain is of the same type. And the percentage of extra virgin olive oil production in Crete is even bigger than the national average.

The details of the Cretan extra virgin olive oil production in Chania

It is not easy to produce one of the highest quality extra virgin olive oil in the world, as Crete and especially Chania are proud of. Apart from the secrets of growing the olive trees the right way, and collecting the olives in the best time and in the best way, there is also the process that transforms the olives to extra virgin olive oil.

This delicate process needs to be carried out carefully using the best of the modern machinery, like the ones in Psaroudakis’ facilities. But let’s see the olives processing procedure in detail.

In the first stage the olives are separated from any remaining leaves, stems etc., and the olives are washed thoroughly. Right after, the olives are pressed. Unlike the older days, where this pressing procedure was carried out with big stones carved especially for this reason, today the modern machines use stainless steel rollers to press the olives and produce the olive paste, as it is called.

Then the paste is treated with water. During this stage, the paste must not be heated, in order to keep its rich aroma and taste. In Crete and Chania, this process happens in a temperature of up to about 25 degrees Celsius maximum. This way, the original properties of the olives are best retained. This process is called “cold-pressing”, to distinguish it from other less natural processes that use high temperature to extract the olive oil.

Finally, the olive oil is separated from this late-stage paste, either by further pressing, or by centrifugation. And in the end, the water that was used during the process is removed from the final product: The famous Cretan extra virgin olive oil of Chania.

Next time you are in Crete, take a moment to enjoy the special, fruity aroma of the Chania extra virgin olive oil, and acknowledge the effort and expertise needed to produce one of the best extra virgin olive oils in the world!