Elaion. Pelanos. Agiron. Three words spoken by Ancient Greeks. But today they also comprise the carefully chosen name for one superior quality extra virgin olive oil.
Elaion translates to olive oil. Pelanos is a special mixture of olive oil, honey and flour once offered to the ancient Greek Gods. Finally, agiron means living long. Together they embody why Constantine Scrivanos, a former banker turned entrepreneur, believes ELAION Pelanos Agiron Extra Virgin Olive Oil is among the best Greek olive oils available today.
“These words are part of life, the philosophy behind the brand,” explains Scrivanos, the founder of ELAION Foods from his office in Athens, Greece. “We are inspired by methods from Ancient Greece to produce extra virgin olive oil with no industrial process. The result is the same taste as our ancestors had, meanwhile providing the same health benefits they had then, for people today.”
According to Scrivanos, no one can know the exact and complete process the Ancient Greeks used but based on research from archeological excavations including what tools they used back then, he mastered a way to create ELAION olive oils and began production in 2004. The ancient and modern day methods both start in the same simple way – by harvesting famous Greek varieties of olives. ELAION’s olives hail from the country’s verdant Peloponnese region.
The first type of olive harvested, kothreiki, is an early harvest distinctly known for its lime color and a fruity almond taste. Depending on the taste of the harvest, ELAION may produce three different products including Agourelaion, Agourelaion Finest and Agourelaion Bitter.
The second type, koroneiki, bears a green color, a sweet yet bitter taste and fruity aroma. Also depending on the outcome of the harvest, Coronelaion, Coronelaion Finest and Coronelaion Bitter will be crafted.
The olives are cold pressed the same way olive oil was in ancient times, by using a millstone to extract the olive juice from the olives, which saves the antioxidants as well as its organoleptic properties.
Scrivanos says it is impossible to know how and if the Ancient Greeks determined temperature, but he maintains it is very important to maintain a certain degree especially during the oil extraction process. In general, higher temperatures enable more oil to be extracted but results in lesser quality oil in the end, according to Scrivanos, because volatile scents are destroyed. He says the higher the temperature means more oxidation which leads to the loss of valuable antioxidants, polyphenols and vitamins. For first cold pressed olive oils, the European Union advises temperatures at less than 27 degrees °C. At ELAION, through the help of distant-laser thermometers, temperatures are maintained
at 26 °C at all stages which may decrease quantity but increases the quality of the final product.
Scrivanos says the Ancient Greeks likely didn’t have a complicated filtering process and so ELAION simply relies on gravity to separate the heavier olive remains from the bottled product. In the end, Scrivanos says it can be a challenge to convince consumers that ELAION’s olive oils are pure and untouched when there are small natural bits left behind. However, he says the totally ‘clear’ oils familiar to most is ensured only through the use of the complete range of filter sieves or chemicals — which causes the oil to lose valuable ingredients.
“Since everything is based on nature, our olive trees are completely un-irrigated. How much rain or how the weather has affected them that particular year has an effect, so each oil can’t help but be different each year,” says Scrivanos. “Despite any variations, we guarantee the finest quality.”
The olive oil is then poured into their dark green glass bottles to protect it from decomposing.
“We are not making olive oil for supermarkets so we don’t have the same taste every year like the big guys. They are able to do that because they can put in all kinds of olive oil types and mix things around and go through mechanized processes, but this is not natural.” And finally, stamped on the box is a translated quote from the famous Ancient Greek, Hippocrates, dating from 432 BC. “Good nutrition, exercise, proper environment, positive way of thinking.”
“This for me is very wise, they are not just words. It is about health and longevity and everyone should believe in this,” explains Scrivanos who says the translation to English just isn’t as precise and direct. “What they were saying then is that we must eat quality things in small quantities and often. They didn’t exactly mean exercise rather it is all about your energy and your movement. Finally, the proper environment keeps your life in balance, helping your thoughts, inspiring you to put everything in your life together. What Hippocrates said is featured on ELAION’s products because food is a key component for a better life and olive oil can be a part of this.”
Available abroad in markets such as the USA and Japan, ELAION has proven to hold its own among Greek competitors. In 2009, for the top Greek food magazine “Gastronomos,” the best Greek chefs put the country’s olive oils to the test and voted ELAION’s Agourelaion Finest as the “best quality” olive oil in Greece.
It’s not about being the biggest for Scrivanos. “Our goal is to always be known for our quality. And if it means producing only a certain amount of bottles each year that is okay with me.”
Fore more information about Elaion olive oil, visit elaion.com.