EVOO Stories

Efkrato: from Crete with love

Written by Veronica Lavenia

If you live in magical Crete, the largest Greek island, have small family olive groves, share the love for nature and slow life, deciding to start a limited production of quality Extra virgin olive oil is a fairly natural choice.

©Antonis Tsoulos

It is not only the extraordinary place, the sustainable and organic cultivation, the early harvest that make EFKRATO a valuable EVOO, awarded in many international olive oil competitions. What makes a difference is also the ancient Cretan variety “Tsounati”, which gives rise to a special olive oil.

©Antonis Tsoulos

EFKRATO is the winning bet of Emmanuel and Andreas, cousins ​​united by the desire to create something unique like an EVOO with bitter and spicy of early harvest, aromas of green fruits, artichokes, freshly cut grass. An olive oil very rich in polyphenols and low acidity.

©Antonis Tsoulos

Rigorous cultivation methods, respect for Nature, the awareness that a similar quality is possible only because the production is on a small scale. All this, and much more, makes EFKRATO one of the most praised EVOs by professionals, as told by Andreas and Emmanuel.

©Antonis Tsoulos

Located on the island of Crete, your company produces high quality EVOO in limited quantities. Can you tell us when EFKRATO was born and what philosophy characterizes your production?

The first ideas have arisen around 2015. Three years later we succeeded in filling the very first bottle of EFKRATO. However, our ancestors have always been producing olive oil from these trees, and EFKRATO represents the ideal version of the same olive oil we grew up with.

The philosophy behind EFKRATO can be expressed with two keywords: sustainability, and gastronomic excellence. Cultivation, harvesting, and processing are following very strict rules, for example quality check of every single olive fruit by hand, that can hardly be implemented in large scale productions.

©Antonis Tsoulos

We apply best practices in order to create an Extra virgin olive oil that is healthy, delicious and sustainably produced.

©Antonis Tsoulos

In which area of Crete are the olive groves located and which pedo-climatic characteristics make your production special?

The trees we are harvesting grow on the western part of Crete, both on the north as well as on the southern side of this generous Island. Traditionally in Crete farmers usually own and take care of many smaller orchards rather than a continuous single property. Therefore EFKRATO is also a combination of different soil and microclimatic conditions.

©Antonis Tsoulos

It reflects the terroir of olives grown in regions close to the shore as well as those cultivated up to several hundreds of meters above sea level. Even though this combination of terroirs results in a well-balanced EVOO, its irresistible green flavor comes with a decent amount of bitterness and pungency.

©Antonis Tsoulos

For the average consumer, can you explain what are the advantages of an organic Extra virgin olive oil like yours?

Being organic is only part  of the equation.

One of the key features of EFKRATO‘s identity is the relationship of respect and love we have with the olive grove and the environment in general. We don’t stop at being organic but rather treat our olive groves like small gardens. In return, we enjoy not only the olive fruits but also snails (a famous Cretan delicacy), wild asparagus, herbs, native capers etc.

©Antonis Tsoulos

The way our food is produced has significant social, ecologic and economic impact. ⁣We are well aware of this and we continuously try to improve our methods.

©Antonis Tsoulos

The cultivation methods that we use are stricter than those of organic farming and practically impossible to apply in large scale production of olive oil. We “cooperate” with sheep and occasionally horses which provide the olive grove with high quality organic manure in exchange for its weeds, while at the same time we experiment with biodynamic methods of cultivation.

©Antonis Tsoulos

The above are paired with special treatment of the olive fruits which are selected one by one by hand, so that only those that are in excellent condition are used in the production of EFKRATO.

Olive oil cold extraction is done every day, within a few hours after harvest and only the batches with the best organoleptic characteristics are bottled.

©Panayiotis Braho

These are some of our “secrets” so that we end up with not only a sustainably produced Extra virgin olive oil but a healthy and delicious one too.

Climate change is always posing serious challenges and we have gone beyond organic, experimenting with bodynamic cultivation as a means to further reduce our footprint and to make better use of the smaller and smaller available amounts of water.

©Antonis Tsoulos

How does a typical day of work take place in the olive grove?

There is no typical day, there are seasons each with their own set of tasks, less or more labor intensive. Sometimes we just go to inspect which might actually mean just to take a relaxing walk in the olive groves. Pruning is also a very pleasing task for me as much so as it is important for the tree. We have read and experimented a lot in order to conclude the ideal way of pruning our Tsounati trees. As a newby, I wanted our trees not only to bear fruits but also to look beautiful. We now know that more important than to eliminate branches and twigs is to know which of those must absolutely not be cut off and why the tree needs them.

©©Panayiotis Braho

For every EVOO producer, the most important, laborious but also exciting period of the year is the harvesting season. The fruits produced after a year of treating the trees, must be harvested elegantly and quickly. They must be protected from the sun, the heat and time, and must be taken to the olive mill in perfect condition in order to achieve the quality of olive oil we aim at.

©Antonis Tsoulos

Working starts with putting in place harvesting boxes, nets and harvesting utilities. Once the harvesting starts, time plays a key role in manyfold ways: As soon as the olive fruits are separated from the tree, the undesired fermentation process starts within minutes – the more so, if the fruits are getting direct sunlight and/or heat which is easy to occur in Crete if you harvest at the beginning of October like we do. Therefore, quite a lot of attention is paid to this. Once the boxes are put in a shady place or in a cooler truck, they are safe for their final destination in the mill a few hours later. The amount of dedication our family puts into the harvest is paramount for the final outcome. We do care for the quality of the product at all steps i. e. from the tree to the bottle.

©Antonis Tsoulos

Why is your EVOO so special?

Our olive oil is made exclusively from the ancient Cretan variety called Tsounati, which is barely known outside Greece. EFKRATO offers a unique combination of culinary pleasure and nutritional value.

©Antonis Tsoulos

It is awarded both for its richness in polyphenols (it bears the Health Claim – EU regulation 432/2012) and its organoleptic characteristics that include aromas of green fruits, artichokes, freshly cut grass, cinnamon, almonds etc harmoniously combined with the characteristic bitterness and pungency of an early harvest olive oil, and a long “aftertaste”.

©Antonis Tsoulos

We apply best practices in every step of cultivation and production in order to create an Extra virgin olive oil that is healthy, delicious and sustainably produced.

Each drop of EFKRATO worthily represents the cultural and gastronomic wealth of Crete.

About the author

Veronica Lavenia

PhD.
(Speech) Writer and magazine contributor, some of her works have appeared in the most popular International magazines.
Her scientific papers have been published in some of the most renowned international literary academic journals.
Writer| Translator| Communications manager at "The Wolf Post", since the birth of the platform.

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