I can not stretch enough the importance of olive oil. Way before refrigerarors and freezers came along, olive oil was used for the preservation of food and the safekeeping of products (when they are in season, for when they are out of season). This was done with simple procedures, like drying in the sun or in the oven and kept in glass or clay jars with olive oil, salt and vinegar. What a great way to enrich daily meals with products that are not abundant every season of the year.
This procedure is called tourci (pickled), and not only common vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers etc., but olives are preserved this way. Olives are harvested when they are still green and very firm, in early fall. They are cracked with an object, without breaking the pitt. They are placed in cold water for a couple weeks, until they lose the bitterness. The water has to be changed daily.
When the bitterness is gone, than the olives are placed in salty water for a couple days, than drained and placed in a clay pot and covered with olive oil. Adding the rind of a citrus fruit, as a lemon, orange or mandarin, gives the olives a pleasant aromatic flavor. The olives can also be left in salty water.
The abundance of olives in Greece has made them very popular, not only because they have essential health properties, but they are tasty with every meal. During hard financial periods, a few olives and a piece of bread satisfied a family’s hunger.
The olives also have a very close relationship with the Greek diet and during fasting periods in the Orthodox religion, certain days oil is forbiden, but olives are allowed. Monasteries are known for being surrounded by olive orchards, and monks are in charge for the yearly production of olives and olive oil. Mount Athos, one of the most sacred Monasteries in north Greece, is known for centuries for its daily use of olives.
From the Minoan age, aromatic olive oils were made and used in therapeutics and in worshiping. Aromatic oils also add a devine taste to salads, roasted meats and fish.
In a glas or clay jar filled with extra virgin olive oil, place a few fresh or dried hot red peppers, cover the the jar tightly and store in a dark cool place for a couple weeks.
With the same procedure many different flavors can be made as rosemary and garlic cloves, fresh oregano and peppercorns, fresh basil and garlic cloves, fresh mint and pepper, cinnamon and cloves. The storage jar should be washed and dried well and when the oil is done, the herbs should be removed and discarded.