The first signs of the cultivation of the olive tree appear in 3500 BC in Palestine. In Greece, however, mention of the olive appears with the advent of writing.
The importance of the olive tree is great, especially for the islands, because the olive grows in a soil that is not suitable for cereals. Thus, it became possible to increase the area of arable land of the islands, and the olive tree became even more important. The result was an increase in the population of the islands, improved nutrition, and the creation of products for trade.
Olive oil played a big role in the development of trade and the multiplication of the wealth of ancient Greek cities. No less attention was paid to the oil in religion. The Greeks appreciated olive oil not only for its biological strength, but also metaphysical.
Greece is an ideal place for growing olive trees. Currently, olive groves occupy 3/4 of the forested area in Greece, and 34% of the country's rural population is engaged in the production of olive oil and picking olives. Olives account for 87.21% of the harvest of all trees in the country. Greece is the third largest producer of olive oil in the world after Spain and Italy, and holds the first place in the production of olives.
Over 132 million olive trees grow in the country, of which about 350,000 tons of olive oil is produced per year. In addition, about 21 million trees are grown for the production of olives.
Types of olives
The main types grown in Greece vary in size: small, large and medium.
Olives are collected manually or mechanically. Manual harvesting is applied to table olives to avoid damage of the fruit and deterioration of the quality. The beginning of the harvest season depends on whether an olive will be used as a snack or raw material for the production of oil. Table olives are collected when they grow in size, and when the deep green color disappears and becomes light green. Thus, green olives are collected slightly immature by the end of September and in the middle of October, depending on the type and region. Black olives are collected later when the fruits are ripen.