Sixty percent of agricultural land in Greece is used for growing olives, allowing Greece to account for twenty percent of the olives grown in the world.
Greece grows the greatest variety of olives, and produces the most black olives in the world.
Sixty percent of the olive oil it produces is Extra Virgin. It produces almost twice as much Extra Virgin olive oil as Italy and three times as much as Spain.
Both green and black olives are produced in Greece. Long black and green olives are grown in Northern Greece; round black and green olives are grown in Western and Central Greece. In Southern Greece, only black kalamatas are grown. Olives in warmer valleys are ready to harvest before those grown in more elevated parts of Greece.
Greeks don't usually use lye to cure their olives. They use brine, which doesn't leach out as much flavour as does lye. Consequently they are stronger tasting. "Greek Olive" is often used as a generic term to mean any brine-cured olive, no matter where it comes from. These would be better termed "Greek-style olives."
"Sevitel" is the name of the association of Greek olive oil producers. Most Greek olive oil is produced from Koroneiki Olives.
Like most of the rest of the Eastern Mediterranean, olives aren't included much in Greek cooked dishes, aside from some exceptions. The cooked dishes that they will appear in are tomato sauces for pasta, in some breads and in stews. More usually, they are eaten out of hand as a snack or as an appetizer, or served in salads.
Olives have been cultivated in Greece since about 4000 BC, likely arriving from Turkey or the Middle East.
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