Honest Toil is a small project run by Tom & Juli. Based just south of Kyparissia, on the west coast of the Peloponnese, Greece, they bring extra virgin olive oil from the village here to the UK. More than just a business, Honest Toil is also the history of their wanderings and a way to connect homes & families.
While harvesting in their own small groves, they also work together with other smallholders and the local press, supporting the local economy and making sure that the high quality extra virgin olive oil from the area doesn't end up blended into commercial oils by big companies.
As the two of them have a uniquely direct control over the whole process, from picking to pressing and packing, they have the fresh oil available by January each year. The fact that they're so hands-on also enables them to have sustainability at the core of the project.
The olives used for the oil come exclusively from small family farms, and are hand-harvested using traditional methods, without unnecessary strain on the tree or the disruption of wildlife. The olives are pressed in the family-owned village press and the oil is packed locally.
They're determined to share an olive oil that’s exactly how it comes here in the village, fresh from the press; it’s completely unfiltered, so once pressed, it isn’t put through any additional processes. Everything is pressed the same day it’s picked and the oil has an acidity of between 0.2-0.3%, which is pretty impressively low.
It’s also completely unblended: unlike most “extra virgin olive oil” found on supermarket shelves, it really is small-batch production, and isn’t mixed with inferior oils or oil from previous harvests… consequently it tastes ridiculously good. As it's unfiltered, the oil contains the sediment from olive skins and pips, giving it a great green opaqueness with a thick texture, and the raw, grassy result is pretty much the same thing the ancient Greeks would have consumed!
Both the lands and the village presses here are locally owned and run as family businesses – groves with a few hundred trees are considered large farms, which is in stark contrast to the intensive, large-scale olive oil production characteristic of other big olive cultivating regions. They harvest the olives with traditional, manual, low-impact methods, using sticks with ‘propeller-like’ endings that remove the olives from the branches, letting them fall onto large nets spread underneath the trees. The olives are then gathered into sacks and taken to the village press in the evening.
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