`Producers Transform Olives from Monumental Trees into Medicine on Crete - Olive Oil Times

Producers Transform Olives from Monumental Trees into Medicine on Crete

Dec. 1, 2020
Sofia Spirou - Agronews

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The majes­tic trees of the olive grove of Eftihis Androulakis have a his­tory dat­ing back cen­turies.

Olive trees up to 12 meters (39 feet) high, which have been bent and twisted around their axis by the wind, are still pro­duc­tive and serve as a liv­ing tes­ta­ment to the close rela­tion­ship between man and nature that lies at the heart of the tra­di­tion in Crete.

Since 2019, our olive oil has been pre­scribed by 400 doc­tors, which opens a door for other olive oils to also seek to clas­sify as a dietary sup­ple­ment.- Eftihis Androulakis, co-owner, Pamako

The way in which Androulakis talks about the olive grove reveals a mix of pride and a sense of respon­si­bil­ity that he shares with his part­ner, Michalis Marakas, as care­tak­ers of these mon­u­men­tal trees.

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Eftihis Androulakis

Androulakis and Marakas go to great lengths to exper­i­ment with meth­ods of olive oil pro­duc­tion to achieve the high­est expres­sion of the ter­roir in Chania, Crete — as well to gain cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for their oil as a food sup­ple­ment in Belgium.

See Also: Producer Profiles

About 1,200 trees of the Tsunati vari­ety grow on steep ter­races at an alti­tude of about 650 meters above Sougia and Paliochora. The mon­u­men­tal size of the trees, with foliage that stretches 15 to 20 meters across, tes­ti­fies to their long his­tory that goes back sev­eral hun­dred years.

About five peo­ple need to work together to har­vest olives. There are no roads on the estate, so to approach the trees we have to make our way onto the slopes of the moun­tain and then climb onto the olive trees,” Androulakis said.

In order to pick the fruit in safety, we secure our­selves onto the trunk because the slopes are exposed to strong winds blow­ing from the coast­line,” he added.

The com­pa­ny’s olive grove also includes another 10,000 trees of the Koroneiki vari­ety, planted in the area of Maleme just out­side Chania belong­ing to the co-founder of Pamako, Marakas.

The adven­ture of olive oil pro­duc­tion does not fin­ish at the stage of the har­vest but con­tin­ues into the phase of extrac­tion, which takes place in the company’s pri­vately owned mill.

We do a lot of exper­i­ments that include, for exam­ple, the pit­ting of part of the olives, the grad­ual har­vest­ing of the fruit, while we also mod­ify the machines to get the qual­ity we are look­ing for,” Androulakis said.

Among the secrets of the olive oil of Pamako is that the fruits of the mon­u­men­tal trees mature in stages and are col­lected at dif­fer­ent times, which gives char­ac­ter to the olive oil.

One of the rea­sons I believe the olive oil has char­ac­ter is due to the old age of the trees,” Androulakis said. This is why I am very care­ful not to change the nat­ural bal­ance of these cen­te­nar­ian olive trees and avoid prun­ing and inter­fer­ing with the struc­ture of the tree.”

According to con­nois­seurs, Pamako olive oil, which earned a Gold Award at the 2020 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, strikes a bal­ance between high lev­els of phe­nols, which are ben­e­fi­cial to health, with a well-rounded taste. Specifically, accord­ing to Androulakis, the olive oil has aro­mas that range from greener tones of arti­choke to red riper tones of tomato.”

Of the 50 tons pro­duced by the com­pany, only five are con­sid­ered pre­mium olive oil con­tain­ing the very high phe­no­lic char­ac­ter­is­tics that earned it a health claim since 2013.

See Also: The Best Greek Olive Oils

In order for olive oils to acquire a health claim they must con­tain more than 250 mil­ligrams of polyphe­nols per kilo­gram of olive oil as well as five mil­ligrams of hydrox­y­ty­rosol and its deriv­a­tives per 20 grams,” Androulakis explained.

The fact that our olive oil has been reg­is­tered to have a health claim gave us the oppor­tu­nity to coop­er­ate with the Belgian com­pany, Nutri-log­ics, which spe­cial­izes in food sup­ple­ments in order to export our olive oil,” he added.

The big dis­tinc­tion, how­ever, came years later in 2019, when research car­ried out mainly by Nutri-log­ics led to the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of Pamako as a dietary sup­ple­ment.

It is a huge step that our olive oil can be pre­scribed and avail­able in phar­ma­cies in Belgium,” Androulakis said. Since 2019, our olive oil has been pre­scribed by 400 doc­tors, which opens a door for other olive oils to seek to clas­sify as a dietary sup­ple­ment.”

According to Androulakis, sim­i­lar claims will soon be reg­is­tered in other coun­tries, includ­ing France and Luxembourg.

In order to be cer­ti­fied as a dietary sup­ple­ment, olive oil must meet more strin­gent stan­dards and have five times the lev­els of total phe­nols but also much higher lev­els of spe­cific phe­nols,” Androulakis explained.

The food sup­ple­ment is pack­aged with the label of Nutri-log­ics and the name Cardiolea in a small bot­tle of 200 mil­li­liters, while Pamako is mar­keted in a pack­age of 250 mil­li­liters.

Today, the quan­tity of oil sold by Pamako as a dietary sup­ple­ment in Belgium reaches two tons — or 10,000 bot­tles.

It is a good num­ber at the moment, espe­cially given that it is a new prod­uct in which doc­tors, phar­ma­cists and the indus­try in gen­eral need to be trained,” Androulakis con­cluded.


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