A very special green olive from central Greece
“Amfissa olives only come from certain areas within central Greece, near Delphi,” explains Marianna of Oliveology. “These particular ones come from Mendenitsa, which is a small village in the Kallidromon Mountains. It is a very traditional village, set in an environment which has natural springs, fir, pine and oak trees and other plants like junipers bushes, all of which support a wide diversity of wild life.”
But for the producers of these special olives, it is more than just a scenic backdrop. “They see the wealth of biodiversity as a vital part of the environment in which they have chosen to develop their farm.” The olive groves are positioned in the lower reaches of the mountain range; the perfect conditions to grow wonderful olives. “The best olives are grown at 350m above sea level and this is around the elevation of these olives groves,” she continues. They are also close enough to the sea to pick up the remnants of coastal winds, producing a microclimate that’s perfect for growing olives.
This is the first time that Oliveology has sold green olives and their arrival on the stall came about as a result of requests from Marianna’s customers. “People in Britain love green olives and some of my wholesale customers were asking why I didn’t sell any,” she continues.
“A lot of green olives can be too salty, unlike the black olives I sell”—a result of the fact that all the olives at Oliveology are unpasteurised and have undergone very little processing; qualities which are very hard to find when it comes to sourcing green olives. Marianna was also determined to find a supplier with organic certification which again, was not an easy feat. “So when I came across these producers I knew I had found something special,” she enthuses.
“The farm was set up by two ex-anthropologists who wanted to create something that works with the environment and run along strictly organic and biodynamic principles”—which is why the location of the farm is so important. “They wanted the surrounding countryside to enhance the olives they were producing, as opposed to having to fight against it.”
Characteristics of the area
And their approach is working. “You can really taste the distinct flavour of the olive—which is not always the case with processed green olives—because the trees take on some of the characteristics of the surrounding area.” This gives the olives a real depth of flavour, as well as that hint of bitterness that all good olives have.
“I am really excited about finding Amfissa olives because they come from a lovely place and the producers are really committed to working in a way that is sustainable, both environmentally and commercially. They have produced something really special here.”
Even for Marianna they are still a relatively new discovery, so she is mostly enjoying them as a snack or in salads. With some experimentation, however, this will no doubt change in the near future. “They are firm olives which hold their shape and texture when they are cooked, though I would suggest putting them in towards the end if the dish is going to be cooked for a long time,” she advises.