The Olive Oil Museum

 

The Olive Oil Museum, unique in Cyprus, features olive oil extraction methods of the past (millstone, olive press) and various items related to the storage and uses of the olive oil as well as its history. Illustrated wallboards give a variety of interesting facts, such as wearing wooden shoes to press olives and the role played by the olive oil in the Mediterranean diet for medicinal and cosmetic purposes, as well as on other gifts and uses of the olive tree. Visitors have the opportunity to compare the extraction methods of the past to the modern process of the ecological olive mill. Finally, they can find out more about the gifts of the olive tree.

The Gifts Of The Olive Tree

The olive tree sets the geographic boundaries of the Mediterranean. ‘… where the olive tree stops, the Mediterranean ends’ (George Duhamel). Olive oil, the ‘liquid gold’ (Homer), has been a source of life for the peoples of the basin for thousands of years. Cypriots based their diet on olive products for thousands of years. They literally survived, as a common proverb claims, on ‘bread and olives’. They used olive oil and olive tree leaves for medicinal and cosmetic purposes and the wood of the tree to make furniture.

The olive tree is interrelated with the light as well as with ancient rituals (e.g. olive tree branches were used for purification). In the Old Testament the olive tree is the tree of hope. References to the symbolism of the olive tree are also made in the New Testament, in Egyptian papyri, and the Koran. In the Greek tradition –and later during the Roman empire -it is the tree of peace.

Olive oil plays an essential role in the Mediterranean diet, often considered as possibly the healthiest in the world. Scientific research has shown that olive oil, which is cholesterol free, strengthens us against cancer, cardio-vascular and other diseases, and it is generally healthier than butter or the other oils. Extra virgin olive oil, in particular organic, is the olive oil of the highest quality, as its acidity is low (less than 0.8%). Olive oil (plain or with herbs) is used not only in salads, beans, sauces etc., but it also replaces butter and the other oils in cooking in the Mediterranean diet, even in pies, biscuits, and cakes. Olive oil is also ideal for frying. When not over-heated, it undergoes no substantial structural change and keeps its nutritional value better than other oils, not only because of the antioxidants but also due to its high levels of oleic acid

Olive oil was widely used in medicine both in antiquity and the Byzantine Era. In Cyprus it is still found in various grandma’s medicines. For instance, a piece of cotton soaked in warm olive oil is used to soften earache. Pregnant women would rub their bellies with olive oil to avoid stretch marks. Rubbing olive oil on parts of the body aching would relief from pain. Athletes in ancient Greece would rub their bodies in olive oil. What is more, olive oil is also believed that olive oil has aphrodisiac qualities. According to a popular proverb: ‘Eat olive oil and come in the evening. Eat butter and sleep like a log’.

Olive oil and olive kernels have been widely used to produce soaps and other natural beauty products for the skin and hair. Olive oil has been used to lighten houses and public places since prehistoric times. It is still used to light ‘candilia’, small hanging oil lamps, in the Christian Orthodox church.

There are several dozens of different kinds of olives, which can be prepared in many a ways, e.g. in vinegar, in salt, stuffed, as paste etc. They can also be used in dozens of recipes. The main olive sort for olive oil is considered to be the ‘koroneiki’.

Tea made with olive tree leaves is an excellent natural way to counter high blood pressure. Olive tree leaves are also used in religious and traditional customs. On Cyprus, for example, on New Year’s Eve olive tree leaves in the shape of the cross are thrown into the fireplace. If they leap, it means the wish will come true in the coming year.

Wild olive branches (kotinos) were used to crown Olympic Games winners in Ancient Greece. Already Homer mentions furniture made of wood from the olive tree. Even today, the olive tree wood is used to make salad bowls, boxes, small pieces of furniture, and an assortment of small decorative objects for the house.


 

Copyright@2005 - Designed and Developed by Ultima

home page