What you always wanted to ask
If you always wanted to know whether green and black olives are different varieties, whether olive oil can also be used for cooking, etc., you will find some answers on this page.
We would be happy to answer any further questions you may have. Please e-mail them to us and we'll be happy to post them together with the reply on this page.
- Are green and black olives different varieties?
No, the only difference is in the harvest time:
Green olives are harvested earlier, black ones later.
The green olives therefore taste fruitier, the black ones milder.
- At Kreta-Agora the black olives are brown and not black - why?
There are no truly black olives; even when fully ripe, olives are dark brown. If you see really black olives somewhere, black dye is always added and must be specified.
About olive oil
- What does 'extra virgin' olive oil mean?
Extra-virgin refers to the top quality class of olive oils. This has to meet a number of criteria in terms of taste, color and chemical composition. However, it is very important that the oil is obtained only by mechanical processes (centrifuging or pressing) without heat (the temperature must not exceed 27°C). This process is also called cold extraction and the oil is then referred to as cold-pressed. Cold pressing is so important because higher temperatures destroy the components in the oil that are so important to our health, such as vitamins and trace elements and antioxidant substances that protect against diseases.
- What does the statement '0.2%' or '0.3%' mean for olive oil?
Any oil, even the mildest, has some acidity. This is due to the fruit acid in the olives. The number indicates the percentage of acidity: the lower the number, the milder and better the oil.
Extra virgin olive oil, for example, may have an acidity of up to 0.8 percent according to EU guidelines, while mixtures of 0.5 to 0.8 percent acidity are commercially available.
With 0.3, Kreta-Agora offers you real top quality.
- Where does the different acidity in olive oil come from?
The olive oil with eg 0.2% acid is obtained from the same olives as the 0.3% oil. So the difference is not in the different types of olives, but in the process of oil extraction, for example. If the olives are taken from the tree to the oil mill immediately after harvesting, the higher-quality oil can be pressed from them. If the olives have to wait longer than 2 days for further processing, this damages the quality and increases the acidity. Another reason for higher acidity can also be the insect infestation of the olive trees. If the winter is very warm, many pests can survive and invade the olives, which also reduces the quality of the oil.
- Can I only use extra virgin olive oil for salads and not for cooking?
Definitely not. If it was true that you can't use olive oil for cooking, then you wouldn't get a steak or the like in Crete in the families or in a good restaurant, because on Crete they only use olive oil for cooking.
You can use a good quality olive oil for everything in the kitchen, including roasting steaks or frying potatoes in a pan, but of course the oil must not simmer.
- Why does olive oil taste different every year?
Like a good (unblended) wine, a good natural olive oil (particularly an extra virgin one) has annual differences in color and taste.
This is due to the amount of rain or the amount of irrigation, which varies from year to year. For example, the winter of 2015/2016 was very dry, which meant that artificial irrigation had to be carried out in the spring so that the olives had enough pulp.
The temperature is also important in autumn and winter: if these seasons are very warm, the fruit is more likely to be infested with pests and the quality of the olives and oil is reduced.
Finally, the storage time of the olive oil between pressing and bottling is also important: the oil needs time to mature, i.e. during this time suspended matter settles, making the oil milder. We always try to find the ideal time for bottling, but it also happens that the oil continues to develop while it is still in the bottle/can.
There are certainly more factors that determine the consistency of olive oil, the above are the most important of them. In any case, pure olive oil should be treated like good wine: it does not taste the same every year; only mixed olive oil always tastes the same - like adulterated wine.
- How can a customer recognize a good olive oil such as Kreta 0.3?
Kreta 0.3 is a privately produced olive oil from our family's olives (i.e. from from our own farm plus additionally from Georgios Petsagkourakis' brother's farms, because our own olive trees are not fully productive yet), so not an oil from an industrial company.
The olives are picked from the trees at harvest time (that is between December and February for us, depending on the altitude of the olive farms: the higher the altitude, the later the olives are ripe and can be harvested) using vibrating equipment and caught on the ground with nets. Then the olives are shoveled into sacks and brought to the oil mill on the same day. This is important because the quality of the oil suffers with each passing day between harvest and pressing. The fruit is then separated from the accessories (twigs and leaves), washed and ground, resulting in a mass similar to olive paste. After adding a small amount of water and mixing everything properly, the mass has to rest for some time so that the oil can be released from the fruit. The important part of centrifugation or pressing at a maximum of 27° follows. Only olive oil that has been pressed or centrifuged below 27°C is a candidate for extra virgin olive oil grade. According to the EU regulation, there are different quality classes with precise specifications as to how an olive oil must be made so that it can be called that. This not only includes 'cold extracted' or 'cold pressed', but also color, smell, taste and many other chemical properties; even the instruments for analysis are precisely regulated and standardized.
Acidity is an important part of the specification; it must be below 0.8%. But it is also an indicator of manipulation: there are laws and regulations on olive oil marketing that apply throughout the European Union; these require the specification of different analysis values if the acidity is explicitly stated. Many manufacturers shy away from this and only print 'up to 0.8%' on the label to avoid the analysis. For an oil such as Kreta 0.3, where acidity is reported, wax content, peroxide number and UV absorption coefficient must also be reported. Now, if a very high quality olive oil is blended with an inferior one to get below 0.8%, the manufacturer will almost certainly not provide a full analysis on the label - a warning to customers to be careful in this case.
The label (for which, by the way, there are also guidelines that apply across the EU) can be read by an expert layperson. Ultimately, however, a customer cannot be sure that he will always find good olive oil in the supermarket, even if the description is correct - see Stiftung Warentest 2/2016. Even the comment 'a good olive oil has to be expensive so that you can be sure that it is really of high quality' does not guarantee anything; an overpriced oil does not always have to be the best, and our own pricing does not intend to artificially inflate the price to create the illusion of even better quality. Ultimately, it is a matter of trust where the olive oil is bought.
- How long does olive oil keep?
In fact, there is no legal requirement on the best before date (BBD) of extra virgin olive oil, although there are regulations and laws on almost everything olive oil, even on the content and font size of the labels.
The rule of thumb for extra virgin olive oil is: minimum shelf life of 18 months from the day of bottling. However, the 18 months are only a guideline for such an oil, and depending on the acidity, the MHD can deviate from this guideline.
With all these regulations, let's not forget one thing: In ancient times, olive oil was used as a preservative for meat and vegetables, and with good reason!
- How long can opened olive oil be used?
Even after the bottle or canister has been opened, the olive oil can be kept for at least as long as the best-before date indicates if it is stored properly (dark, dry and cool, but not cold, i.e. no refrigerator). Certainly the oil has a longer shelf life because it is a best before date and not an expiration date! In earlier times, olive oil was also used, for good reason, to preserve meat and vegetables for a long time.
Before opening a canister, we recommend our customers to drill a small hole on the opposite side of the lid from the spout, so that the oil can flow out evenly, and to seal this opening with adhesive plaster, for example, so that no foreign matter can penetrate.
- When will the new olive oil of the last harvest come?
It is important to know when the olives for the oil are harvested. Confusing for a layman: The harvest takes place in winter, depending on the altitude of the farm between November/December almost at sea level to February/March at higher altitudes. After the harvest, the olives are usually pressed within 1 to 3 days. Subsequent storage is important for a good olive oil; like a good wine, olive oil needs to rest to allow suspended matter to settle, although there are companies that bottle their olive oil almost immediately.
What does this 'timetable' look like for our oil Kreta 0.3 or 0.2 Premium? Harvest time for us is December/January; bottling is done from May.
- Why is organic olive oil with <0.8% acidity more expensive than extra virgin olive oil with 0.3% acidity?
Normally, an olive oil with less acid is of better quality than one with more acid. That is why an olive oil with, for example, 0.3% acid is more expensive than one with 0.8% or the specification '<0.8%' (i.e. less than 0.8%).
But apart from acidity, another and very important factor in the price of extra virgin olive oil is the way the olives are grown : organically grown oil is quite more expensive than 'normal' oil. In Greece as in Germany, special requirements apply to organic cultivation, which are checked by independent institutions. This includes in particular fertilization, for which there are precise regulations. A sack of fertilizer for organically grown olives, for example , cost around 90 euros in 2022 compared to normal olive tree fertilizer at around 48 euros.
There are other factors that are important for organically grown oil: When pressing, care must be taken not to alternate pressing with normal oil; separate working days must be agreed with the oil mill for organic oil. Furthermore, the oil from the first 3 years of organic cultivation must not be sold as such, to ensure that there are no carryovers from previous cultivation.
Because of all these and other factors, organic olive oil is more expensive than regular olive oil, even if the acidity is listed as '<0.8%'.
About olive paste
- How do I store opened olive paste?
Smooth the surface of the paste in the jar, making sure there is always a thin layer of oil on top. Opened olive paste can even be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks.