The oil from thasos
Thasos is known for its olive oil, honey and marble.
The first thing you will see when you land on Thasos are great olive plantations. For years the people of Thasos have lived off of olives and fishing. To this day every family has a large number of olive trees in its possession… Once they used to work very hard on picking and pruning of the olives. Nowadays, the work is usually done by workers from Albania and Bulgaria. They receive 40 euros plus food per day. However the owners go with them to the picking, especially men. The picking of green olives is in September, and black in November.
If you want to take a couple of kilos of fresh, green olives back home with you in September, you can ask the owner of your hotel about it and he will surely point you in the direction where you can go and pick some. If you need the recipe for preparing the olives for the winter, feel free to ask me :-)
When you take into account the expense of picking, the low price of olives and olive oil, the olives do not bring a substantial income. In the end, the owners are usually happy if they are left with enough olive oil to use for their own purposes until the next gathering.
Of course there are families who deal with production of olives professionally and it brings them a significant profit. In that case, watering is necessary, because otherwise the crop will be weak and the olives small.
The most significant picking of olives is around 1st of November. As I have already mentioned, it is when black olives are picked. They are the richest in oil. During those days, due to a large number of workers coming for the picking, Thasos comes to life again (after a small pause in the second half of October). They leave for the picking every morning around 6 a.m. and usually return from it around 4 p.m. When returning from the picking, they drop off the olives at the factory to be processed. In every major city on Thasos, there is a factory for processing of olives, and it is owned by the locals. Each family is the owner of 1% of the stocks, and buying or selling the stocks is prohibited.
The owners of the oil choose whether their oil will be packed in 1l glass bottles or 2.5l, 5l, and 16l cans. Each owner has to leave 10% of his oil to the factory.
The traditional method for production of olive oil, where you get cold pressed oil, is used in all of the factories.
Most of the islanders do not use any oil other than olive. It is even used for the cresset.
The second in use is corn oil, followed by the sunflower oil.
During the summer, due to the heat, you can smell a strong smell from the waste (shuck) the factory dumps, so the people are often wondering what is happening. The smell is quite bad and is similar to the smell of the sewer. Most of the tourists are bothered by the smell, especially in the first couple of days.
Recently, some smaller, private factories for processing of olive oil have started working. One is located in Panagia, and is very well advertised. Of course, you can buy good oil there as well, but at a slightly higher price. There, you can observe the process of making oil. The factory is near the central crossing of the village.
The eldest olive trees can be seen in Prinos and Rachoni, and it is said that they are around 900 years old.
It is my honest advice to you, not to return home without bringing at least a 5 l can of oil with you. Besides having a high quality, the oil has a very moderate price too, ranging from 23-28 euros for a 5l can. You can find oil gained by organic production, as well, but it has a higher price.
A 1l bottle of olive oil from Thasos has a price of around 5.5€.