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The Olive Tree in Corfu

The historyof the olive tree is inextricably part of people's lives in the Mediterranean. Even though olive trees were first cultivated in Greece, specifically in Crete, since ancient times the olive has been considered sacred fruit. It appears in myths, plays and in its people's history, and has always been a symbol of struggle, prosperity, peace, fertility and euphoria.

Olive production in Corfu began to become widely known during Venetian rule, a time when the area enjoyed particularly significant economic and commercial growth. At this time, the Venetians ordered the plantation of an olive grove which resulted in a large part of the population of Corfu engaging in growing olives and producing oil. This is how the history of olives began in the region and continues to evolve today with the same care, leaving its own mark and creating for itself a special niche in olive cultivation and oil production
The Corfu Lianolia tree, which is cultivated in Corfu, is known to be a variety demanding moisture and it thrives in areas of great rainfall, one of which is the prefecture of Preveza. This tree is also known by the names of Corfolia, Ladolia (Oil tree), Nerolia (Water tree), Prevezana, Souvlolia, Striftolia and the Local Corfu tree. It is a perennial evergreen tree which is hardy to frost, wind, infertile land, brackish water, grows vigorously and will grow to a height of more than 25 metres, if left unchecked. Its leaves are a dark green – golden – and its fruit is a shiny green which turns black when ripe. Ripening starts in November and lasts till January. The tree usually bears fruit every second year. The olive is a cylindrical-conical shape and is usually used to produce good quality oil, as its oil content varies from 18% to 20%.
Harvesting the olive is one of the most important stages in olive farming and must be started a few days before natural ripening takes place. Originally, olive picking was done by hand, mainly by women, who came from neighbouring regions to secure an annual supply of oil for their family.
From the 1960s onwards, special nets were used, which were spread under olive trees to collect the olives when they fell.
Today, olive oil producers ensure that the nets used at this stage are hung a little above the ground so that the olives do not touch the ground, which would lead to deterioration of the fruit.
Olive picking takes place at regular intervals (every 5-7 days) and the olives are then placed in sacks and stored in a clean, odour free, dry place to maintain their good condition until they are taken to olive presses in the area, where they are stored in open areas until they enter the production line.
There are three stages in olive processing in a mechanized olive press: Crushing of olives, pressing of olive pulp and separation of oil and water.
Then, the finished oil is placed in barrels and stored or moved to be sold.
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