Olive Oil of Samos
The holy olive tree exists on the island since the ancient times. During the last years there is growth in the cultivation and renewal of many olive groves. The dominant varieties, apart from the old Samian trees, are the “koroneiki” variety and the “kalamon” variety. The care starts in the spring with the trimming and the fertilization of the trees and continues during the summer months with the cleaning of the ground from the dried weeds. In November nets are rolled out and the collection of the fruit gradually starts. In the old trees this takes place by means of thwacking and then there is a waiting period of fifteen days, for the fruits to fall to the ground. After that, the thwacking is repeated. This procedure is repeated three times. In the younger varieties, there is collection by means of thwacking, which takes place only once. The olives are put is sacks and are carried to the oil-press (or “liotrivi”). This building would traditionally have either a manual or an animal-powered mechanism with rocks, which would crush the fruit and the material is put in sacks, which go under a press with heated water, from where fresh and warm olive oil is finally extracted. Nowadays, there are super-modern means, which make this procedure much simpler and less tiring.
The payment of the oil-press would traditionally be made by means of a percentage from the quantity of the oil. During the procedure, people would eat the “kapira”, which was bread seared in the fire, circumfused with fresh, warm olive oil and salt or even oregano, as well as sugar, when given to children. The oil was stored in the warehouses of the houses, inside “pytharia” (large clay barrels). In the past, there was important exporting activity, especially to the countries of the East, whereas today the market and the trade of the oil from Samos are limited, due to its high acidity and its heavy taste. A rather distinctive product of the Samian olive grove is the “chamades”. Certain particular olive trees produce certain olives, which, when they fall to the ground, from sour they turn to sweet and have a blond-brown color. They can be eaten fresh, as they are or they can be placed inside brine, aromatized with pieces of gorse. It is an excellent eating and very distinctive, but it will be difficult to find it in the market or the restaurants of the island. It is worth looking for them, though, in case you wander in the villages.