Sideris allowed us to enter his world, telling us the story of his company ( Vorodonia Athenolia EVOO ), his family, the production tradition and the quality of his extra virgin olive oil. Michael wanted to follow the family production philosophy and tradition and expresses a deep respect for the work of his predecessors . In his words this strong bond often returns: “I honor my father, my ancestors, my village, the Athinolia olive tree and every limited and precious drop of his oil.”
Michael shared with us his father’s teaching : “Keep only what our ancestors left us. They have worked hard to find the best variety of olive trees, to plant in the right place in a perfect soil with an ideal climate. All that needs to be done is to maintain these peculiarities. Don’t change anything, harvest when the olives reach perfect ripeness, take them to the mill when they have the right weight, never take your eyes off the olives at the mill and stay small “.
Sideris has internalized and implemented his father’s advice for years : he collects olives when they are ripe for at least 80%; these are then brought to the press and pressed as cold as possible. Afterwards, the oil is pressed at room temperature and separated from their natural water with very cold water. This process is very long, it takes at least 4-5 hours for pressing. The oil is then stored in 17 kg containers with part of the olive pulp, a practice that guarantees a shelf life of over 3 years.
Michael’s olive trees are scattered throughout Vorodonia and every year he observes them closely and carefully decides where to start. Once the harvest has started: “we collect and squeeze the same day. We never mix olives from different olive groves. Each collection is stored, dated and squeezed in 17 kg containers. Each olive grove produces different squeezing ratios, even if they are only 50 feet apart. When customers taste my extra virgin olive oil, they are tasting one terroir at a time. The crusher records each squeezing. We weigh the olives, squeeze them and weigh the oil. We provide each producer with the results and declare key annual production information to the government,” says Sideris.
Another interesting analysis Michael shared concerns the acidity levels present in the oil : “if the olive is unripe, the oil will be extracted from the seed. The result will be a high acidity, bitter, yellowish oil that will turn rancid quickly, with flavors similar to sunburned oranges or hay. Speaking of which, I’ve always wondered: do humans eat hay or sunburned oranges?
Harvesting unripe olives is comparable to squeezing dozens of hard, unripe oranges that will give paltry amounts of juice and won’t have the typical, healthy taste of orange juice. On the contrary, picking the olives at the right stage of ripeness is equivalent to squeezing 4 perfectly ripe oranges that will give a juice with a delicious flavor “.
According to Sideris, there are two main factors that guarantee quality: geographical position and quantity.
“Geographical location makes a difference,” explains Michael, and you have to take that into account and adapt. “Countries like Australia, Texas, California or South Africa that started planting olive trees in the last 30-40 years are working hard, but they will never be able to get quality olive oil and so much, minus an extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is extremely difficult to produce, “Sideris points out.
This is the original article: