Hello my friends!
Today I am going to write to you about the famous Greek olives. Although there are at least 3 or 4 different varieties in Greece, the most known variety is a specific one from Kalamata. In Greece we call them “Kalamon” olives (it means the olives from Kalamata). In the rest of the world they are known either as black olives due to their color or as Kalamata olives.
On Nov 1st we had the opportunity to visit a magnificent olive farm. Some days before our visit, a friend of ours told us about this farm. Due to his profession (he is an Organic Agriculture Auditor) he has the opportunity to visit a lot of Organic farms in order to audit them but this specific one has made a very good impression on him. The owners of the farm, a wonderful and very hospital loving couple, have decided to make their olives trees Organic. Although they are only in the second year of Organic farming (out of the four needed to take the Organic certification) their olive trees seem like they are growing in a boutique.
I was so intrigued by his description that I took the opportunity to ask him if we could visit this place and join the handpicking of the olives. He agreed and after a few days he made all the necessary arrangements.
When we arrived at the farm I saw that he was absolutely right. The place was magnificent, the farm was so clean and the olive trees were amazing. The olives on the trees were like the olives you see in advertisements. According to my friend their size and quality was scaled as “A” which means the biggest size and quality. A few days later I received an email confirming his words.
Evdokia, the owner and farmer of the olive trees has sent me the certification she has received from the chemistry lab of the Olive mill. The olive oil produced by these olives, was characterized as “Extrisimo”. To make a long story short, “Extrisimo” is the best quality olive oil you can get. The EVOO or the Extra Virgin Olive Oil as it is known around the world as the best quality of Olive Oil is one grade lower than “Extrisimo”. Evdokia, apart from being an amazing person and a very well educated farmer, has done us the honor of posting an article here in the Sweet Greek Alchemies blog with pictures from the “Extrisimo” olive oil production. You can view it here.
Of course we couldn’t let such an opportunity go wasted so we asked the owners if we could handpick some of their wonderful olives. They kindly accepted and below you can see some pictures of us harvesting and of course the procedure on how to prepare the olives for your daily diet (plus 4 gourmet recipes we suggest you to make together with some secrets). In case you have no olives, don’t worry. We have some for you in our store. In the recipe video following you can see the whole procedure and you can choose your favorite taste.
Cleaning the olives
Put the olives in a large bucket. How many buckets you are going to need, depends on the amount of olives you have. Wash them thoroughly. Fill the bucket with water and stir them with your hands for five minutes. Repeat again for at least 5 times.
Cutting the olives
The mesocarp of the olive contains a high percentage of a bitter substance called “oleuropein” (chemically it belongs to polyphenols). In order to remove that bitterness we need to follow an easy but time consuming procedure. The first part of this procedure is called cutting. Depending on the amount of olives you have it can take from half an hour to many hours. So, sit comfortably and begin.
Take two buckets. The one with the olives and one empty. Take a clean razor (only stainless steel) and cut the olives one by one. Begin from the top to the bottom of the olive. One straight cut, not to deep. You must not touch the core of the olive with your razor. Tips for beginners:
- Sit comfortably. The procedure can take hours.
- Be careful with the razor. Do not use a knife. It doesn’t make a clean cut and it will damage the olive.
- During the cutting procedure the olive juice can paint your fingers and your clothes. Use sterilized gloves and wear a protective apron.
The second part of the procedure is the water change. It can take up to two weeks. It is easier than the cutting but it is important to keep the plan of the water change.
As soon as you finish with the cutting of the olives, fill the bucket, you have the olives in, with water. Put it in a cool and shady place. Repeat the procedure of the water change for at least 15 days. After day 13th, taste one of the olives. It will give you a percept of how many days more you will need to keep them in water. As soon as you don’t taste the bitterness any more the Olives are ready. Now it’s up to you if you want to eat them plain or you want to flavor them.
In the following video you can see 4 flavoring recipes. They are really simple but you have to follow the basic hygiene rules:
- Wash and sterilize the jars.
- Wear sterilized gloves.
- Keep your working station clean.
You can find our four Gourmet Flavors in our store:
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Look at the fresh olive oil of new harvest. Pure and precious in your plate. Try it on a fresh slice of bread, salads and dressings
..the loving olive trees near the forest, rest peacefully together with the pomegranate trees.
Olives are harvested in late October, mainly green. To keep natural ingredients at their highest concentrations. To reserve and transfer the precious polyphenols and the sensitive aromatic molecules into the oil fluid.
Treated at oil press factory of contemporary technology designed to respect the olives’ complex chemistry. Low temperatures treatment, cold extraction process and high hygiene standards.
Look at the result.
Pure and precious as the grandma’s old laces.
Would you like to taste it?
PS. This post is written by Evdokia. Evdokia is a good friend of ours and nature lover. As you can see, from her article, she is a magnificent photographer and we really hope that she will continue adorn our blog with her photos & articles.
Evdokia welcome onboard!!!
Hello my friends!!!
Today, our recipe is a promise we made to Anne. She bought our Spelt Nettle Tagliatelle and we promised her that we would show her how to prepare it.
The recipe we present today is a recipe of my grandmother. We have adapted it a little, to today’s standards but the ingredients are all the same.
You can buy the Spelt & Nettle Tagliatelle here
You can also find here the recipe for the homemade Tomato Juice used in the recipe.
We hope you enjoy it!
Spelt Nettle Tagliatelle with beetroots sauce
Hello my friends!!!
Today, we begin a new way of presenting our recipes. We decided to record our recipes and present it to you by video.
The idea came from an email from Zee, a friend of our blog and a trusted buyer of our products. Zee suggested to us that it would be better for our blog readers to see than read our recipes. I have discussed it with Sotiria and we decided to give it a try. So, today we present you our first video with a famous Greek recipe and a loved one.
Veloute Fava with Caramelized Onions
We hope you like it and we are waiting for your feedback. What do you think? Should we keep recording?
Hello my friends!!!
Finally our first video is online at last. It took us a while to make it but we think, you are going to like the result.
Do you want to know what Sweet Greek Alchemies is? Meet Lucy…
The autumn brought clouds and rain is purring down during the last couple of days. I don’t complain, we missed rain a lot this summer but at the same time I guess we are not ready yet for the autumn early nights and the cloudy weather. That is why I decided today to make a summer delicacy that Alexis loves and accompanies perfect the famous Greek Tsipouro.
Tsipouro is like Ouzo but much better. Although Ouzo is a well know Greek alcohol beverage (like Grappa or Sambuca in Italy), believe it or not, Greeks do not drink it. The majority of us prefer Tsipouro, for a lot of reasons. Personally I prefer it because it doesn’t give me this terrible headache that Ouzo brings.
Let’s start with the ingredients
- 6 medium zucchini
- 200 g. feta cheese grated
- 1 slice of bread (moisture and dried)
- Basil, chopped
- Organic Oregano
- 1 organic onion, grated
- 1 organic egg
- 40g – 50g of flour
- Salt & pepper
Drain the freshly grated zucchini of excess moisture. Put them in a sieve over a bowl to drain. If you want you can salt them. Salt will help the extra moisture to draw.
Add the remaining ingredients in bowl mix them and then add the zucchini and mix them again. Use a fork if you want. The mixture will be ready as soon as you see all the ingredients “married” to each other.
Leave the mixture for 30 minutes in the refrigerator to rest. My proposal is to leave it for at least 2-3 hours. When it comes to fresh ingredients and herbs, mixing needs time.
Put a wide frying pan over medium-high heat and pour enough sunflower oil to fry the zucchini mixture. I used Organic Olive Oil but since it’s hard to find, you can fry them with sunflower oil also.
Do not burn the oil. Medium to high heat is perfect. Take a spoon and one by one, put the fritters in the pan. As soon as they get a nice gold color on one side, turn them to fry on the other side also.
Once they are ready, take them out of the pan and put them on a plate. Make sure that you have covered the plate with a paper towel, before you put the fritters. This way the paper towel will drain the extra oil from the fritters.
What do you think? It’s a pretty easy recipe, right?
Till next time I am wishing you a restful and tasteful Sunday!
Organic food and health – benefits & advantages
Hello my friends!!!
A healthy diet it’s not only about the avoidance of unhealthy foods, but it’s about receiving the maximum of nutrients in every bite you eat. You need good quality food to build a solid body. But do you know that your eating choices also affect the environment? If you want a healthy body and a healthy planet, start thinking about organic products.
Definition of Organic Products
The organic product grows, developed and processed without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, antibiotics or hormones. Only farmers who produce food according to the regulations of organic products certified by an independent body can characterize their products as “certified organic.” The term “conventional” features non-organic agricultural practice.
The Benefits of Organic Food
According to a 2001 study, conventionally farmed fruits and vegetables have about half of the vitamin content to those of 1963. Organically farmed products, on the other hand, are more nutritious than food produced with the use of synthetic chemicals, according to studies conducted in 1993. On average, organic food is 63% higher in calcium, 73% iron and 118% magnesium, while 29% have lower mercury content.
Apart from larger portion of nutrients per mouthful, organic food helps the human body fight against diseases. Surely you’ve heard about flavonoids, which are produced by plants as a response to environmental stresses, such as insects or competing plants. Flavonoids have high levels of antioxidants, which enhance the plant’s natural defenses and help fight diseases. Surveys indicate that pesticides and herbicides affect the production of these protective components.
According to Organic Center scientific analysis of 2005, antioxidant levels in organic foods are approximately 30% higher compared to those of chemical products. Most antioxidants are found in the peels of fruits and vegetables, but most people throw the peels of conventionally cultivated products to reduce their exposure to pesticides. It is safer to eat the peel of an organic fruit or vegetable, in order to receive the max amount of antioxidants.
Scientists have a clear picture of how environmental toxins and diseases are linked. They have demonstrated how the exposure to chemical fertilizers and pesticides affects our health. Some pesticides are responsible for disrupting the function of our endocrine system (which regulates the hormones), while others are linked to breast cancer, urinary tract cancer and asthma to name just a few.
7 Reasons to Buy Organic Products
- Protect the health of your children. Children are exposed up to four times greater pesticide levels from food than adults. Pesticides affect children to a greater extent because of their higher metabolism and lower body mass.
- Take care of your health. Despite the fact that many pesticides have been banned from certain countries, these pesticides are used in other countries and return to us as a finished imported product.
- Ensure the health of farmers. Studies have shown that conventional farmers have six times greater chance dying from cancer than other people. Because of fertilizers and chemicals often sprayed, and thus dispersed in the air, farmers are exposed to large amounts of chemicals without protection.
- Keep the soil clean. Tons of topsoil is lost each year due to erosion caused by conventional farming methods.
- Protect water. Pesticides are known to contaminate the aquifer, thus affecting the reserves of drinking water.
- Protect resources. Conventional farmers use a significant amount of oil-based herbicidal to kill weeds while organic farmers are using more laborious ways such as weeding by hand.
- Fight global warming. Herbicides are based on oil to provide nitrogen plants the needed elements for rapid growth. These nitrites components are entering the atmosphere and contributing to global warming.
The differences Between “Honey” and Raw Organic Honey
I know, this week we haven’t posted anything but believe me we were fully dedicated to Sweet Greek Alchemies. We have travelled a lot and we met a lot new interesting people. Soon we will be able to announce some very interesting and tasteful information. Until then I am going to give you something interesting to read. Take it into consideration next time you buy a “Honey” jar.
Honey vs Raw Honey
Believe it or not, not all honey was created equal. When you are grocery shopping, you may not realize that you may be losing out by buying fake honey. Bee pollen is considered to be one of nature’s best and most nourishing foods. It’s packed with protein that is combined with amino acids that can be easily used by your body. In Chinese medicine, bee pollen is used to improve unbalanced nutrition, vitality, longevity, energy, etc. Bee pollen is also used for weight control, health, beauty, allergies, anti-aging and more. All of these qualities are lost with the removal of bee pollen. Regular honey does not contain bee pollen.
Why companies remove bee pollen & the history of fake honey
So this brings us to our next point, why is it that this wonderful nature’s miracle is removed from our honey? Everything started in China. After noticing its incredible effects on health, the demand for honey skyrocketed. Chinese, historically being experts at mass manufacturing and imitation, began to produce very cheap quality honey. So much in fact, that it started to export the honey to other countries, including the United States. Fast forward to 2003, where Smuckers recalls 12,040 cases of honey; followed by Sara Lee, which used 100,000 pounds of honey in its baked products. The cause? Chinese honey. During testing, contaminants such as chloramphenicol (used in eye drops, side effects include leukemia) were found.
So how did they know that this honey came from the Chinese? Because bee pollen contains DNA which can be used to trace the honey back to its origin. Following these recalls, U.S. banned all honey coming in from China. As a result the Chinese were stuck with tons of honey that could simply not be sold. The Chinese are smart businessmen, so they came up with a solution. If you can’t ship it from China, ship it from somewhere else. They sent their cheap honey to India where it was mixed with Indian honey and pollen, and voila. “New” yet still potentially contaminated and unnatural honey was born.
A while later, they came up with Ultra Filtration. Ultra filtration is the process of removing the bee pollen from the honey, which leaves honey virtually nutrition-less but it gives it an extremely long shelf life. Fast forward to 2013, and 3 out of 4 bottles of “honey” are fake. 76% of all honey in our stores are pollen-free. That makes most of the honey sold in United States fake.
Choose Raw Organic Honey
The market is literally polluted with cheap, health damaging honey. So be careful when you make your choice. Find honey that is raw and organic. It has tons of health benefits and does not damage your health. If you want us to help you with differentiating the two, please let us know and we’ll write a post about it. For now, here are the differences between honey and raw honey.