The olive tree is a tree with lots of symbolism attached to it: Peace, wisdom, fertility, prosperity, immortality and success. In a way it’s a miracle tree. What would the Greek cuisine be without the beautiful olives that these trees give us, and with that olive oil? I post this recipe of marinated olives with feta in honour of olives of all kinds, anywhere, but especially the ones we pick with so much love every year in the autumn on our olive farm.
The olive tree is such a blessed tree and we are so lucky in Greece to have them in such abundance. Not that I dislike other trees, but we all have our favourites. Mine are the olive tree and the lemon tree. Don’t forget that I grew up surrounded by them and now I still live among them.
Olive Picking Week
Every year in October there is a week in which we pick the olives. The last 7 years I have been blessed to be able to change this from a somewhat boring week with a lot of hard labour into a wonderful party! Friends from all over the world come to take part in this beautiful ritual of manually picking the olives and ‘olive tree admiration’ while we celebrate life together. In the Olive Picking Week we make ‘green gold’.
Making edible olives
Apart from the olive picking, we try to do all the things with our olives that my grandmother would do. Of course we cook with olive oil, make olive soap and prepare edible olives. Preparing edible olives starts by picking and selecting the biggest ones that are suitable for eating. We prepare them in 2 or 3 different ways: The green ones in brine, the black ones in salt and herbs and the rest in olive oil. These different methods are used because of the different texture of the olives. There are many more ways to prepare them, like with vinegar or even seawater, but we follow my family’s recipes.
Together we experiment with different methods for curing the olives. We process them during the week that we are all together, and then my wonderful olive pickers take the olives with them to continue the curing at home. You have to be passionate about this process, because only after 20 days will the olives be nice and edible. A workaround to spare you some time is to just buy olives!
Next to olives, feta plays a leading role in this recipe. Feta is the cheese of Greece. There is no house in Greece that does not have it in their refrigerator. There isn’t a more classic Greek combination for a snack or a meze than feta and olives. Feta is made from sheep and goat milk. Since 2002 it has had a “protected designation of origin” (PDO) of the European Union. This specifies that only those cheeses produced in a traditional way, in particular regions of Greece, made from sheep’s milk – or from a mixture of sheep’s and up to 30% goat’s milk from the same area – can be called feta!
To make the olives and feta rock even more, you can marinate them with my mixture that contains lots of great ingredients: Bay leaves, rosemary, scented geranium, olive oil, lemon juice and peel, lemon slices, garlic, parsley, oregano, peppercorns and spring onion.
For optimal enjoyment, I suggest that you drink a lovely Greek wine while nibbling on your marinated olives with feta. The dry white wine called Salto from Domaine Skouras goes perfect with this recipe. Enjoy!
Photography: Annette Spaan
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