Basil Koutalianos is the head of the family business. The Koutalianos' farm is home to their treasured Olive Grove, which is located in Peloponnese, near the ancient city of Olympus. Since 1998, Basil has been bringing his olive oil and its sister products to Canada, supplying restaurants, hotels and retail stores such as Capers and Urban Fare. The Golden Olive 'Eleni' Oil, the current year's harvest, is pure, sweet and clean. Passion and hard work are what enables the Koutalianos family to achieve the success they so rightly deserve. In 2001, they supplied the annual Food Expo at B.C. Place Stadium with their olive oil for the "Hot Competition" - an event where chefs and cooks compete by creating their best culinary masterpieces.
While visiting Basil and his wife, Helen, one has the opportunity to learn about their farm and its operation. The grove consists of approximately 1,000 olive trees with 150 ranging from 15-25 years old. They are one of the few trees that are guaranteed to produce every year. The trees produce 5 tons of olive oil annually. Larger groves may produce up to 80 tons in quantity, but are not necessarily of pure quality. The annual consumption of olive oil in Greece per person is 60 litres. After 24 months, olive oil loses viscosity and nutrients. Therefore, olive oil should be consumed within the first two years of its pressing. Unlike wine becoming better with age, olive oil is best when fresh and of its most recent vintage. The texture of the Golden Olive 'Eleni' Oil, certified organic extra virgin olive oil, is light, its colour is amber-green and the finish is clean.
The farm is located in a region where there are no chemicals used. Neighbours work together to assure each other that this most essential principle remains protected. Special grass is planted to nurture and feed the trees and then turns to mulch. Herds of local sheep are brought in to fertilize the grove. Artesian water is pumped through an octopus system to quench the grove once or twice per year. Since olive trees produce well 25 metres from the sea, constant watering is not required.
The farm is situated on the southwest side of Peloponnese, an area that provides a good climate and perfect growing conditions with ideal soil and low precipitation.
Trees are not sprayed, so traps containing ammonia sulphate are hung from their branches. The 'dakos' are a species of flies that are attracted to precipitation; they are also enticed by the ammonia sulphate substance, which in turn, destroys them.
The seasons of Spring and Autumn are the most labour intensive. The harvest begins in November with mills running for 24 hours. The koroneikis olives are picked prior to their ripening stage, while still green and pea size. The agoureleo, green unripened olives, give the lowest yield of approximately 10% per 100 kilos, but are of the best quality, due to their lower acidity level. Olives that achieve full ripeness are far more acidic. The general practice of cold pressing with commercial speed starts at 45 degrees Celsius with temperature rising to 65 degrees Celsius. The Koutalianos' use Cold pressing at 28 degrees Celsius which eliminates the heat method in order to preserve and retain the nutrients.
Harvest time, takes three weeks of hard labour to maintain quality control. To further preserve its purity, since olive oil immediately absorbs odours, large nets are placed amongst the grove to catch the olives. This process is to ensure that they do not come in contact with any earthly elements. Each tree produces 40 kilos of olives and each year, new seedlings are planted.
Basil Olive Oil Products Ltd. market additional items, which are included in their Golden Olive 'Eleni' Certified Organic product line. These treasures are named after their daughters and include: Golden Olive 'Vassiliki' Green Olive Tapenade, Golden Olive 'Vassiliki' Kalamata Tapenade, Golden Olive 'Anastasia' hand made olive soap and Golden Olive 'Evangeline' certified organic sun blessed original Corinthian currant raisins. The majority of their products, such as their delicious tapenades are assembled at their processing plant in Greece. Their packaging warehouse is located near their home in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia.
For those who appreciate good taste with exceptional quality, Basil Olive OIl Products, Ltd. has the combination down to an art. Basil Koutalianos states that, "Good ingredients always enhance the flavours of everything you eat and make. They should be pure and simple."
Taken From: Rolling Pin International, Vol 2, Canadian Issue, February 2002
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