Upon approaching the small port of Prinos I was taken aback by the greenery of the island, the majority of the landscape is made up of beautiful green pine trees stumbling down to the sea front and silvery olive groves that glisten in the sunlight.
Vaggelis was there to greet us and I was surprised to see a young man in front of me. In a time where traditional farming methods are disappearing with the older generations it is rare to find young people with the passion and inspiration that Vaggelis and Paresa put into their company.
Aside from growing up in a city Vaggelis decided to go back to his heritage and follow in his grandfathers footsteps as an olive farmer. He has an enthusiasm for olives which is evident in his work AND his great tasting olives. It is refreshing from a consumer perspective to meet someone who is passionate about traditional methods but yet open to new ideas.
He knows everything there is to know about olives and has worked hard to build the Velouitinos name and create an olive that is organic, wonderful tasting and hugely low in salt in comparison to standard olives.
Plus, most importantly after years of communicating my need for an unsalted Throuba olive the Velouitinos company has finally produced the most amazing unsalted olives, a very rare find in Greece and Europe and better than any other of its kind. The secret lies in picking the olives at their utmost ripest.
Our customers and supporters have been patiently awaiting the unsalted olives since we announced that Velouitinos was working hard to produce them. When we sent out free samples to a large number of lucky Raw Greek fans in 2009 positive feedback was phenomenal and it was hard to contain the excitement at the prospect of having these olives at our disposal.
Here are some of the comments we received after sending out samples:
“opened my delights today :) How do you do it!!! They are gorgeous, I haven't found any others I like. I will defiantly buy these”
“Just opened the olives and had some with breakfast, they're delicious, really fruity and quite moist compared to some others I've tried. It's a pleasure to taste olives as nature intended and it makes you realise how ridiculously processed most other olives on the market are. I doubt they'll last very long now I've opened them, they're very morish. Thank you once again for the generous sample :)”
“In reply to your kind free trial of un processed olives "they are delicious" they taste almost sticky bitter and sweet with a slight liquorish twist so as far as I'm concerned they will be on my regular menu, infact as they are so moreish it will be difficult not nibbling in between as snacks as well!!!”
“Thanks for the olives. they were delicious. a very intense flavour that took a little getting used to at first but then really grew on you. they became quite addictive actually ! I also offered them to a non-rawie (but veggie) who also very much liked them. I definitely feel they are a huge improvement on the salted/cured variety. and i didn't feel toxic either - I can get quite dehydrated and thirsty when eating even quite small amounts of salt (or food containing salt) now.”
“I really enjoyed your olives. I have tried raw dried olives before, but I must say that I preferred yours since they are a bit milder tasting, the down side is that I will finish them quicker...”
The olives we now have are the same wonderful olives we sent as samples but even better because the process from tree to packet is more precise yielding an awesome tasting unsalted, unadulterated, nothing added raw olive.
We also visited the small factory that processes the olives from start to finish. Here they are cleaned and sorted. The olives travel around the factory on a conveyor belt where they are sorted into sizes; the smaller olives are used for olive oil and the larger for ‘table olives’, individuals then manually pick out the unripe olives, odd leaves and twigs from the abundant crop which is then washed and loaded into containers with or without salt (depending on the olives being processed) and eventually weighed packaged and labelled ready to be distributed for sale.
All in all a time consuming process which is well worth the wait because the end results are pure extra virgin olive oil and juicy delicious olives which if squeezed between your fingers release their nutritious powerful oil (something not all olives can boast).
It is a carefully thought out, screened process that has taken years to perfect. Having seen it all for myself I now have a clearer idea of the work that goes into the olives we know and love, and this has given me a new found appreciation for Velouitinos and their marvellous products.
Unfortunately we were only able to stay in Thassos for a few days but this was long enough to fall in love with the island and create a friendship with Vaggelis, Paresa and their beautiful family.
Thank you Velouitinos for your hard work, drive and dedication to the Throuba olives we love so much.