Kefalonian Roots       Genealogical Services for Kefalonia, Greece


 Fading Traditions of Kefalonian Life




With the progress of modern technology and the development of the food industry in Greece, over the past 30 years many of the "old ways" of Kefalonian life are beginning to fade away.

Kefalonian Roots is presenting an explanation of these traditional ways of life, so that descendents of Kefalonians can gain an appreciation of the life style and the soul of their ancestors.

We are most interested in expanding this section.  If you know of  "traditional ways of life" that have faded or are fading from Kefalonian life, please send your information to  stating on the Subject Line: Fading Traditions - Add, in the Message Area: your information and in the Signature: your name and e-mail address.  Contributors to the site are recognized in Credits.





Introduction To Fading Traditions


Fading Traditions of Farm Life

Making Wine

Extracting Olive Oil


Fading Traditions of the Home


Gathering Sea Salt


Fading Traditions of Religious Life

Lenten Lady

How the date of Greek Orthodox Easter is determined

Dyeing Easter Eggs  -  Natural Red









Fading  Traditions  Of  Kefalonian  Life




With the advancement of modern technology, many of the “old ways” of Kefalonian life are fading out.  Three of the traditions concerning food products, which have faded out in the past 15 years, are the old methods of making wine and olive oil, two of the basic products still produced by many people on the island, and the of collecting and processing sea salt.

Kefalonian life, at the present, is caught between the pre-1970’s life style, in which a son would follow in his father’s footsteps as to job preference, and the post-1980’s life style, in which a son would rather further his education than stay home on the farm and take it over from his father.  In general, for the past twenty years, sons have chosen a job other than farming.  Many sons have taken a job, but also help to work the farm.  This generation has had a difficult time; for it is tiring having to work for seven hours at a job and then, go home, eat dinner and go out to the farm and work until sun down during the week, and many hours on the weekend.

Most farms have a vineyard and an olive grove, which in order to be fruitful, require a certain amount of care all year.  This leaves little time for the son to be at home and to share time with his family.  Although this is a traditional way of life, many sons  think of giving up the farm.  However, since this is the first generation that is breaking away from farm life, for many, it is a difficult decision to make; for each son knows how much and how hard his father worked on the farm and how much the land and farm mean to him.  In most cases the father says, “Son, don’t give up the farm, especially the vineyard and the olive grove, they were my whole life, and the vineyard and olive grove will give you wine and oil each year.  Why spend money to buy products which are right in your backyard?”  How can a son refuse his elderly father’s wish?  No matter how tiring and difficult it is for the son to hold down a full time job and tend to at least the vineyard and the olive trees, most sons do it out of honor for their father. 

Perhaps in the next generation, this will begin to change.  There is already evidence of this happening.


The Process of Making Wine

The Process of Making Wine


 Part  I   The Family Vineyard


            Although, over the past twenty years the method of making the wine has changed, the continuous work through out the year in the vineyard has not. See Table 1 for The Month-By-Month Care Of The Vineyard.


 Table 1

Month-By-Month Care Of The Grape Vineyard


Care Required Reason for care


Cut dead branches off grape vines

Cut remaining branches leaving 5 buds.

Spread manure or fertilizer

To make the vines stronger


Have buds for new growth


Feed the vines


Continue the same



Plow the ground around the plants.

To give air to the ground and remove weeds.


  Spray and dust the leaves

Leaves appear and grow quickly.

They must be kept free of disease and mold.


Plow the ground again Every 10 days spray and put sulfur on leaves until  June

Keep weeds from growing

Keep leaves free of bugs and disease.


Cut the top branches

To make the grapes vines stronger, and allow the grapes to absorb more water and plant fluids.


According to weather,

 spraying or dusting with sulfur powder

Clean  the wine barrels


Keep bugs and disease off of the plants

 Clean and repair barrels so they are ready for fresh wine. See Table 3 for process and reasons.


When the grapes are ripe, after 15th August,

 cut the grapes.

Between mid Aug. and end of Sept., depending or the variety of grapes,

 Cut the grapes and make the wine.


Cut the grapes, make the wine



Send sample of wine to chemist


To see what it might need. To make good wine, certain substances must be present in the juice.

Chemists state what to add, if anything is needed.

Wine is ready for drinking, approx. six weeks after the juice is stored.













Part  II   The Process of Making Wine

Grape Juice To Wine

  The method of making wine has evolved from stamping grapes with the feet (a tradition, which in general, faded out in the late 70’s early 80’s, although some traditionalist still carry it on), to crushing the grapes with a tiller, to running them through a machine, which crushes the grapes, extracts and filters the juice, and pumps it into the prepared barrels in a very short period of time.  See Table 2:  The Basic Methods Used To Produce Wine, for an explanation of these methods.


  Table  2   

   The Basic Methods Used To Produce Wine



Foot stamping

Tiller and stamping

Automatic wine press and pump




























   The Pre-picking:


This information is basic to all of the systems.   

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When one enters the vineyard, it is impossible not to cut a bunch of grapes and eat them !!!!!  

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     When the vineyard owner believes that the grapes are ripe, he goes into the vineyard and picks about 12 to 16 clusters of grapes, each bunch from different plants scattered  throughout the vineyard.                              

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    He then squashes the grapes in a colander, collecting the juice in a bowl.  After transferring the juice to a bottle, he measures its density.      ( Instead of using 1.2, they say 12.)  If the reading is below 12, they leave the grapes to ripen for about 6-8 days.  By then the reading should be about 13, a reading that means that there is enough sugar present for fermentation to take place.


The Picking:

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    On the appointed day the grapes are picked and placed in plastic boxes with holes in the sides and the bottom, or in baskets.


       When the picking is complete the grapes are taken to the building where the wine will be made. 

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      Grapes are put into the room used for crushing. 




































In the meantime:

      In the past 15 years, many people have replaced their old wooden barrels with plastic or stainless steel barrels. It is noted that, before the grapes are pressed, the  barrels are cleaned and replaced on their stand.  Barrels are always kept off of the floor so that they remain dry.




















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 The crates of grapes are stacked outside of the Katoi, the room where the wine barrels are stored, leaving room for the tractor and the pressing machine. The presser must be close to the katoi, since the pressed juice goes from the machine through a hose to the barrels.














The Crushing of the Grapes/ Obtaining the juice::




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    Each worker washes his feet, jumps into the place used for crushing the grapes, and stamps the grapes until all are crushed. 



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  Then, the remaining fragmented grapes are taken to the press, which is turned by two men, to remove the remaining juice.









Processing of the Grape Juice:

For Stamping and Tiller Method:  



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     The grape juice flows from the floor where the grapes are crushed, through a basket, which acts as a filter and then down into a clean cement trough.  See the basket receiving juice from the floor, and the cement trough, down, left of the basket.  

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   This juice is then tested for its sugar content with the hydrometer.  

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    After the reading is taken, the juice is put into the barrels. Before 1990, it was taken to the barrels in a metal container, which held 10 liters.  After 1990 it was taken by a pumping system with hose from the trough to the barrels. 


























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  A combination of  workers stamping    grapes, and a tiller, are used to crush  the grapes.






   The crushed grapes are then taken to the press, which is turned by two men, to remove remaining juice.









From this point on, see column one for tiller method.

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   A large machine on the trailer of a tractor arrives where the grapes are stacked and the barrels are stored.

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  Slowly, box by box the grapes are put into the  hopper of the machine.                                                                                             

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   Inside of the machine there is a large screw, which pushes the grapes to the end of a tube where they are pressed.

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  The crushed grapes, stems and twigs are pushed out the back of the machine and  disposed of.  The thick sludge that contains the grape skins is passed out of another opening and disposed of. 




















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  The filtered grape juice is pumped through a hose into the opening at the top  of the barrel.










From here on the system is the same for all methods of making wine:


  After the barrel is full, the measurement of the density of the juice is taken.  It must be 1.2 (12) or over, so that the juice will not become vinegar due to lack of sugar.  To do this measurement, a bottle is used to collect grape juice from the tap.  The first bottle collected is emptied, since any water left in the tap after cleaning   would dilute the juice.   


  The juice collected a second time is then measured with a hydrometer.   

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  After this test, the juice in the barrel is stirred with a stick to make a homogenous mixture.  The test is done again; many times, the results are a half a point higher.   

  After the testing, a chemical, which kills fungus found on the grape plants, is put into a sack and lowered into the juice.  It dissolves, disperses and kills the fungi.

                                            So that gas can escape during fermentation, a cloth is put over the small hole in the lid of the large opening at the top of the barrel. 

 A small bottle, liter, of the juice is then collected,  labeled and taken for chemical analysis.  The result of the analysis is sent back to the wine owner, telling him what he must add to the juice in order for it to ferment and produce good wine.   Whatever is recommended is added to the juice in the barrels, and the juice is left to ferment for 4-6 weeks. During this time, one can hear the bubbling of the fermentation in the barrel.


Finally, the Wine

At the end of 6 weeks, when the bubbling is no longer heard, the fermentation process is complete and the barrels are full of clear, aromatic wine.





Basic cost

     Workers were paid by the day, to stamp the grapes. Before 1980, these people were usually given a Greek coffee during the stamping and a lunch of meat and soup afterward. 

     Basically though, groups of people in the village helped each other. They were “paid”, by having the help of the others, when they made wine.  Many of the villagers were poor, so by helping each other they all had wine and did not have to pay anyone for the help.


      Not every family in the village had a room for stamping grapes.  The families who had the room would allow villagers into the room for the purpose of stamping their grapes.  The villagers, who had large vineyards, would leave 10 kilos of wine as payment.  The villagers, who had very small vineyards, did not pay.

    The cost of the machine, gasoline and three workers, if family members were available to help.

     Payment of the man who brings the machine and for one or two workers.  However, there are usually family members, who also drink the wine, to help with this job; so there is usually no cost for helpers.

     General idea of cost: Each of these methods was used in a different economic period.  In general the automatic system is the most efficient and economical.   The general cost is: 1.20 Euros per plastic container of picked grapes.  If one had 70 boxes of grapes, the usual amount for one picking, he would pay about 90 Euros.  From 70 boxes of grapes the wine owner would get about one ton of wine. The man with the machine is paid by the number of containers of grapes that are put into the machine.  70 boxes times 1.20 Euros =  84 Euros =

102.50 $ US.   One liter of home made wine cost 2.30 Euros .  Therefore, the values of 1 ton of wine would equal 2,300 Euros = 2,806 $ US.  The cost of using the modern method is very small and well worth it.







     From 3 am to 11 am – 8 hours per picking. These hours of the day were used so that the stamping (when the people were in contact with the grapes themselves) was completed before sunrise – before the wasps could come to the grapes and sting the workers.

     About 70-90 containers of grapes could be stamped and processed in this time. 

    Grapes must be stamped within two days after picking.  Therefore, depending on the amount of grapes in the vineyard, there could be up to 3-5   stampings.

     Half the time -

4 hours for each picking.  Again, this process must be done beginning no later than 4am.

     Each picking would have about 70-90 containers of grapes.

     Grapes must be crushed within two days of picking.

     Less than one quarter of the time required by tiller method.

For 70-90 plastic containers, this method requires 60 minutes to make the juice and have it in the barrel.

      This process can be carried out any time of the day.

     Grapes must be crushed within two days of picking.  

The man with the presser is summoned after each picking.







A Wine Maker’s Nightmare



            One of a wine maker’s greatest nightmares is seeing his long awaited grape juice turn into vinegar instead of beautifully clear, aromatic wine.  It is interesting to know exactly what vinegar is and how it can develop in the barrels of stored grape juice.

            Vinegar is a sour liquid containing acetic acid, made by the fermentation of dilute alcoholic liquids, as cider, wine and malt.  Luckily enough, it is not a total waste product, for it is sold as a condiment and preservative.  However, the wine maker sees its appearance as an economic disaster. 

The production of vinegar in the natural setting of fermenting grape juice occurs for one of five basic reasons and the wine maker works very hard to prevent each of these from occurring in his wine storage room and barrels.  See Table 3 for The Conditions Conducive To Vinegar Production And Procedures Used To Counteract Them.




       Table  3: 

Conditions Conducive To Vinegar Production And The Procedures Used To Counteract Them



Conditions Conducive To Vinegar Production

Procedures Used To Counteract Conducive Conditions For Vinegar Production

(1) Old wine from previous year in barrel.


Clean barrel thoroughly before putting in the fresh grape juice

a.        Many years ago – the barrels were washed in the sea to remove

hardened wine sludge and old aromas.


b.        Barrels were washed with a solution of boiling water with quince leaves and the twigs of a variety of grapes used to make raisins to clean the wood and remove odors.


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c.          Today, plastic or stainless steel barrels are used.  The sediment, remaining from the previous year, is poured out.   The barrel is then taken outside and rinsed out with high-pressure water.  


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     The water is drained, and the barrel replaced on a platform in the storage room.       

Presence of :

(2) fungus



(3) aerobic microbes

Clean barrel thoroughly:  For wooden barrels:

a.        Place a small amount of burning wood into the barrel and allow it to burn for a short period of time, so that a crust forms on the inside walls of the barrels.  Remove burning wood, allow barrel to cool and then scrape the inside walls to remove all accumulation of old wine, fungus and microbes.


b.        Depending on period in history, wash the barrel with seawater or the boiling water solution mentioned above.  Turn the barrel so that the large opening on fattest part of the barrel is on the bottom to allow for complete drainage of liquid.

c.        Check all of the pieces of wood to be sure that they are whole and  strong.  Replace rotten pieces of wood.

d.        Check the durability of the metal bands on the barrels to be sure they are without rust, strong and tapped into place, so that all of the  pieces of wood of the barrel are held tightly together.  Check taps to be sure they are secure against the wood, to prevent leakage.

e.        Today, as old wooden barrels rot, they are replaced with plastic or stainless steel barrels. Kefalonians believe that the best wine is made in wooden barrels.  However, most people today choose plastic or stainless steel  barrels over the wooden barrels because they require much less time for cleaning and  require little maintenance.  Also, the clients who purchase the wine apparently see no difference in the wine stored in wooden and plastic or steel barrels, for they do not ask "is this wine from a wooden, plastic or steel barrel?".  Perhaps someday, people will want wine from only wooden barrels, but at present, wine from plastic and steel barrels is selling very well.  It is possible to create the aroma from wooden barrels by placing a piece of the desired wood into the plastic or stainless steel barrel.

(4) Temperature

of fermenting juice

at 30 Celsius and above.

The fermenting grape juice and the wine are always stored in a cool (below 30 degrees Celsius approx 86 degrees F ), dry environment, so that microorganisms which produce vinegar are not able to function.  The old houses were constructed so that the ground floor was used for storing barrels of wine and the living quarters were on the upper floors. This ground floor is  named  κατώγη” - floor on the surface of the ground.  The old houses were constructed with stone blocks 24-28 inches thick, which kept the katoi cool in the summer.    In the picture, see shuttered window for thickness of walls.  

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Katoi with stored barrels

(5)  Alcoholic content of juice under 11%. When the grape juice is put into the barrels, its sugar content is measured.    A chemical analysis also gives the amount of sugar in the juice. Since the organisms, which cause fermentation, eat sugar and their digestive by product is alcohol, the amount of sugar is checked and the proper amount is added, in order to keep the alcoholic content above 11%.



  After The Work,           Enjoy  !!!!!


     Even though the caring for the vineyard and making wine requires much time and hard work, Kefalonians are very proud of their family wine.  With the modern technology, perhaps the sons will keep the vineyard for many years.  We’ll see!



Taping the first wine of the year 2005!!!!!!


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Στην υγειά σας, παιδιά !!!!!

Everyone, here’s to your health !!!!





Human  Resources





     Supplied the facts on wine making.

He has been involved with the vineyard and making wine, since he was a boy.




Elaine Boldrick



     Photographed the process of making wine.







Webster’s New World Dictionary, College Edition, New York, World Publishing    Company, 1962.



People in photographs:


Testing juice, Evaggelos Synodinos-Vallianos and Dionysios Synodinos-Vallianos

Cleaning barrels, Dimitris Synodinos

and Dionysis Synodinos-Vallianos

Unloading grapes, Gerasimos Synodinos-Vallianos

Stamping grapes, Spiros and Memagelos Magdalinos

Measuring sugar content and taking wine out of pit to put into the barrels,

Evaggelos Synodinos-Vallianos

Hand pressing the fragmented grapes 

Spiros Magdalinos, and Evaggelos Synodinos-Vallianos

Men with the tractor and press,

Mr.Dellaportas, and son

Tapping the first wine and making a toast

Dionysios Synodinos-Vallianos















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The Process of Extracting Oil



The Process of Extracting Olive Oil



        Part  I    The Olive Grove and Picking the Olives


     As stated in the introduction, many sons carry on the wine and olive oil making traditions of their fathers.  Since olive oil is used in salads, for cooking and for medicinal purposes, it is convenient and economical to have an olive grove and to make one’s own oil.  Since olive groves are passed from father to child, most Kefalonians own a certain number of olive trees, usually the number required to make enough oil for at least one year’s use. A family of five would require about 100 kilos = 22.2 US gallons of oil a year. Ordinarily, a medium sized tree will produce approximately 20 kilos of oil (1/5 of the year’s requirement); therefore, a five-member family would require 5 olive trees for a year’s production.  However, on the average, every two years the trees must be trimmed so that they do not become to big to pick.  The year after they’ve been trimmed, they produce very few olives.  Although five trees should be sufficient for a five-member family, it is best for such a family to have ten trees, since they usually trim half of the trees one year and the other half the next, thus having half the trees are in full production each year.

     The making of one’s olive oil is not a process, which is completed in a few days, a week or even a month.  The olive grove requires a certain amount of care. The ground around the trees must be tilled and the trees sprayed and trimmed; the olives must be picked, bagged and taken to the olive mill to be pressed; and the oil storage containers must be cleaned, the oil claimed and stored correctly. All of this requires a certain amount of work, at specific times of the year.  Luckily enough, for the farmer and the present day part-time farmer, Mother Nature devised a grand system in which the vineyard and the olive grove do not require a lot of care during the same months. See Table 1 for Caring For An Olive Grove.


Table  1    Caring For An Olive Grove


Month Care  Reason
March Till the ground around the trees To keep the grass from growing
April Nothing  
May Olive trees blossom / no care  
June Blossoms have dropped, when small olives appear and set they must be sprayed. The Govt. agency sprays olive trees, but sometimes it is not done well, and the farmer must spray them too, at his cost. So that insects don’t sit on the olives and lay their eggs inside.
July Nothing  
August Second spraying Protect from insects
September Nothing  
October Nothing in grove, but must clean the oil storage containers. To remove rancid oil and sediment from previously stored oil.  They are washed with very hot water and let to dry.
November Middle- olives are rip for picking  

When all picking in complete, any remaining wood from the trimmings must be collected and stored or burned.  If it is left on the ground, the weeds will grow around it and make it impossible to be retrieved latter.  If it remains, it will be a problem during the next year’s picking.



        As with the systems of making wine, the systems for picking olives and extracting oil have evolved into less time consuming procedures over the past 20 years.  All systems of picking olives require specific procedures and tools:  The Procedures: The trimming of the grass, the clearing of rocks and sharp objects from under the trees and the laying of pieces of plastic sheets (5x10 meters) under the branches of the trees being picked.  The tools: a saw, an olive branch “comb” and a long, light weight stick for each picker; many plastic sacks for storing and transporting the olives and metal cans for the receiving and the transporting of the oil.

        Until the 1980’s the system for picking olives was very tiring and time consuming.  It was the old system which had been used since “time began”, without the use of any type of machinery.  This system required only a long stick and a large plastic “comb” per picker, along with the saw, sheets of plastic and the sacks. Note, before plastic was invented large pieces of cloth were spread out under the trees.  The stick was used for hitting the branches – to shake them and to scrape off the olives.  The “comb” was used to “rake” the olives off of the low branches and those that were cut during the trimming process; and the sheets of plastic were laid on the ground to facilitate the gathering of the fallen olives.   See Table 2  Methods Of Picking Olives for a comparison of the methods of picking.

         In the 1990’s a machine, which shakes the olive tree, was introduced.  This proved to be quite efficient; however it is very expensive and no one in Kefalonia has this machine. Later another style of machine was introduced.  This devise consisted of a long pole, which at one end had a horizontal cylinder with long pieces of rubber, which extend outward when the cylinder is rotated. When the machine is put near the branches of the tree, the pieces of rubber hit the branches in such a way as to brush off the olives.      This machine proved very efficient and is much less expensive than the tree-shaking machine. The newest device, which has come on to the market, is shaped like a large box, with thick bands of rubber, which vibrate rapidly, stretched across the open top.  The cut olive branches are pulled across the vibrating rubber bands and the olives are cleaned off in a few seconds. 

        The machines require a financial investment.  But today, most people use their money to improve their working conditions, and thus purchase the machines.  Those who have both of these machines can pick the trees very quickly and efficiently.  About one half of the farmers on Kefalonia have at least one of these machines. It must be noted, that only farmers owning more than 100 trees would consider investing in these machines.

         Olive picking season begins near the middle of November.  Because the weather can become very damp, rainy, and cold in January, most people try to pick all of their olives during November and December.  However, if the weather brings much dampness, cold and rain in these months, the picking must be delayed until January or February.  Ordinarily, all of the olives are picked and pressed by the middle of February.  Some people want to pick them early to be finished with them.  Others wait until later to pick them, thinking they will produce more oil per ton of olives.  The decision either way is risky.  Picking them early may not yield as much oil; however, picking them later may lead to a loss of much of the crop due to damage by hail, or high winds, which are the characteristic weather conditions in late December, January and February. It is essential to understand that if the olives fall from the trees before being picked, they are useless. Therefore, most people begin picking in November when the weather is usually still sunny and the ground is relatively dry.

                 When there are several people in one family available for picking, the family members, including the women and children, go to the groves in their free time or "made time" to pick the olives.  Many people take part of their vacation at this time for the sole purpose of picking olives.  If there are not enough family members available to pick the olives, then people are hired to do the picking and are given a daily wage, a wage determined by the number of kilos of olives picked or a certain % of the produced oil.

               The olives picked in one day must be cleaned of leaves and pieces of branch, bagged and within a few days taken to the mill for pressing.  This requires organization on the part of the pickers.  If the machines are not used, the plastic sheets are spread out under the tree.   Two people trim the tree, two other people hit the branches with sticks and two clean the cut branches with the combs. When the picking is completed, all of the pickers clean the olives of leaves and pieces of branch and put the olives into pails.  The olives are then poured into the sacks, which are loaded on to the truck, and everyone moves on to the next tree. 

             If the machines are used, plastic sheets are spread out, under two trees at a time. DSC00102.JPG (154035 bytes) In one tree, two people trim the top branches, and then move to the next tree. DSC00085.JPG (154893 bytes) The men with the rotating machine DSC00140.JPG (152534 bytes) then set up around the trimmed tree, and clean the olives off the remaining branches.         DSC00139.JPG (156921 bytes)The cut branches are cleaned with the band-vibrating machine. DSC00100.JPG (154813 bytes) A few people remain to clean the leaves and twigs from the olives,DSC00111.JPG (155689 bytes) and to bag them. DSC00114.JPG (151869 bytes) The men running the machines move on to the next trimmed tree.  After one tree is picked, the plastic sheets are pulled under another untrimmed tree, and the process begins again.  At the end of the week, large pieces of wood, from the trimming, are collected for the family fireplace or sold for firewood, and the smaller branches are piled up and burned. 

        After three days, the olives must be taken to the mill for pressing.  Once the olives are pressed and the oil cleaned, it is put into clean metal cans.  The olive mill owner then takes 10 % of the total oil produced, as his payment for pressing the olives.  The recipient of the oil pays, in cash, a “tax” for the oil. [This tax is used by the government to pay for planes and insecticide for spraying the trees in the summer]. When the oil is ready, the owner takes it to his home and stores it in either large clay pots, metal or plastic barrels, or metal cans; all of which remain in a cool, dry place.  See Part  II – The Process of Extracting Oil.

        For the oil to be palatable, it must “rest” for about 30 days.  The “resting period” allows time for the very fine pieces of olives, which could not be filtered out, to settle to the bottom of the container.  Very fresh olive oil tends to “burn” the throat tissue.

        Many families, which have large olive groves, produce more oil than they can use, and they therefore, sell the extra oil.



Table  2  Methods Of Picking Olives





Spinning pieces of rubber

Branch cleaner

(Machine with rubber bands)

Materials Required Sheets of plastic, saw, comb, light weight stick, sacks   All those used in the old method plus the machine Sheets of plastic, saw, sacks used with either of other methods

and the branch cleaner

Average time to pick a tree

   1-2 hours     45  minutes  Reduces time to  30-40 minutes.  Along with the spinning machine it takes about 30 minutes

Efficiency of each

Compared with the old  system.

A very long, tiring system.

Very little financial investment

  Much faster and less tiring.

A financial investment of:
before four years this machine and the branch cleaner were sold separately, today, 2006, they are sold together for 1,200 Euros.


Very fast -

Financial investment of 

1,200 Euros, for both machines.




        There are different varieties of olives.  Some are good for making oil and others are good for eating.  However, freshly picked eating olives, have a very bitter taste.  Kefalonians take the picked eating varieties and use one of the following methods for removing the bitterness and for storing them.

        Method one – The olives are soaked in a saturated salt-water solution for 7 days, with a daily change of water. The olives are then placed in a large jar, filled with a solution of salt water. After sitting in the solution for 20 days, they can be eaten.  Of the two methods, this is the more efficient for long-term preservation. 

        Method two - The olives are hit with a rock to split them open.  The pit is removed and they are placed in a large container – one layer of olives, one layer of course salt – and stored for one week.  The olives are then taken from this container, and without rinsing, placed in a jar for storage.  This process is not efficient for storing olives for a long period of time.   They must be eaten within two months.

        There is one question about olives, which many people ask.  Is it the green or the black olives that are ripe?  Answer:  It is the black olives that are ripe. DSC00089.JPG (123308 bytes) Green olives purchased in jars are non-ripe olives, and those with red centers have been pitted and stuffed with pieces of sweet red pepper called pimento.


 Part  II    The Process of Extracting Olive Oil

Part  II   The Process of Extracting Olive Oil

At the Olive Mill


         The process by which the olives are pressed and the oil is extracted is very interesting and worthwhile understanding.  The old system of pressing the olives and cleaning the oil was very long and tiring for the mill hands.  The new process is a completely automated operation; and, except for the long hours, is not nearly as tiring for the mill workers. Although the new process is automated, the olives pass through the same process as in the old system.  In both the old mill and the modern mill, the entire process of oil extraction can be easily seen.  The following is a basic explanation of the process by which oil is extracted from the olives.

          The olives, which the farmer brings to the mill, are weighed and stacked under the owner's name. DSC00144.JPG (159582 bytes) Usually one ton of olives will yield approximately 5-8 kilos of oil. DSC00145.JPG (148289 bytes) The weight is then recorded under the farmer’s name for the purposes of record and for the determining of the number of kilos of oil obtained per ton of olives.

               After the weighing, the olives are emptied into a cement pit.DSC00148.JPG (156285 bytes) From there, a conveyer takes the olives to the washer.DSC00147.JPG (147505 bytes) The leaves are blown away from the olives and the olives are washed with clear water.DSC00166.JPG (162220 bytes)

               A second conveyer takes the clean olives to the cutter, where they are cut into small pieces.  The pieces are moved to a machine, which grinds them into a mash.  This mash then goes into a vat where it is heated to approximately 22 degrees Centigrade - 71 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat is a catalyst, which allows chemical reactions to occur in the mash.  The products of these chemical reactions break down the walls of the oil containing cells. 

               The mash is then pressed and the oil, dirty from olive cell debris, is piped to the “oil washer”.DSC00152.JPG (145782 bytes) In the washer the oil is mixed with hot water and is then centrifuged, allowing the oil to rise above the water.  The clean oil flows out of the upper pipe of the washer, DSC00155.JPG (151632 bytes) and is put into a can for weighing.DSC00159.JPG (146330 bytes)  The weight is recorded under the farmer’s name, and the oil is put into his containers. DSC00160.JPG (151355 bytes) Note:  It is very important that the mill manager keep close track of the oil being produced by each owner’s olives.  Each owner must receive oil extracted from only his olives.  The manager must be constantly alert, because a mistake can be easily made.

          The mill owner then takes, 10% of the oil processed, or its monetary value, as his payment, and the federal tax.  After paying,DSC00173.JPG (157408 bytes) the farmer takes his oil to store it at his home in clay pots or metal or plastic barrels, DSC00226.JPG (143974 bytes) knowing that he has supplied his family with oil for another year.



Human  Resources





 Supplied information on the care of the olive trees, the picking of olives and the making of the oil.   

 He is an olive grove owner and was an olive mill owner and worker for 15 years.  Since he was a boy, he has been involved with the olive grove and extracting oil.




  Elaine Boldrick



     She has been involved with olive picking and the making of oil for 29 years.  She photographed the process of picking the olives and extracting the oil.




Nikolaos Synodinos-Vallianos


     He has been involved with olives since his childhood, is an olive grove owner; and was the source for the financial information on the olive picking machines.




Valerie and Peter Darling


     A British couple that have been involved with olive picking and the extracting of oil for 12 years.  They supplied information on their experiences of picking olives and seeing the oil being extracted at the mill.

Kostas Magdalinos


     An olive mill owner who provided information on the chemical process of extracting the oil. 







       Fading Traditions of the Home


      Collecting Sea Salt

Collecting  Sea  Salt


From Nature’s Salt Bowl, To Man’s Table



Before the 1970’s, most people gathered whatever food supplies they could from nature.  One of these products was salt.  It was relatively easy to obtain, it did not require many hours at one time to prepare it for use and it was free.  Even the process of preparing it was free from nature.

Much of the coast of Kefalonia is very rocky.  The rock present in many areas has many basin-like holes which are about 30-50 cm (12-22”) wide and approximately 15-25 cm (15-18)” deep.  All winter the storms and high winds fill these basins with seawater.  By May,  the strong storms and very high winds subside, and slowly the water in the basins evaporates.   By the end of June, the basins are dry and filled with large crystals of sea salt.  The people walk around on the rocks with large bags or plastic bowls and collect the salt.  One year’s supply can easily be collected each summer

Basically the salt is ready for use; however, it usually has dried seaweed or pieces of sea debris mixed in, and can be a bit moist.  The collected salt is picked clean by hand, spread out on plastic trays and placed in the sun to day.  Usually, by July, the rain has stopped and it is safe to keep the salt outside all day.  The nights can become humid, so in the evenings the trays are taken inside and placed in the sun again in the morning.  According to the amount of moisture present in the salt, by stirring it each day, it can take from 4 to 10 days to dry

When the salt is dry, it is placed in airtight containers and stored.  This large crystal salt is very good on Greek salad and can easily be used in cooking.  To most people, the fun of having sea salt is to feel the crystals between their fingers, to hear the cracking sound as they crush it and to see the pieces of white salt fall on the bright red tomatoes of the salad.  It makes quite an epicurean experience.   

Perhaps today we think, “Salt is so cheap, why bother will all the hassle?”  But if one stops to think of very poor people, who lived through two wars and a  totally destructive earthquake, he will realize that getting food free from nature was the only way to survive.  And, most people, just survived .

It is very interesting to note that still today, many people go to the coastal rocks and collect salt, just so that they can have the large crystal salt that they remember from their youth.  The collecting and preparation process does not take many hours at one time, so the collection of it is a nice outing for grandparents and parents when they go swimming; and the cleaning and drying is an interesting process for children to see at home.  It is a project that the entire family can do together.  The process is interesting for the children; while the usage of the salt, on a Big Greek Salad, is very enjoyable for the parents and grandparents. The Collecting Sea  Salt Album  is presented below.



Album:   Collecting Sea Salt


From Nature’s Salt Bowl

To Man’s Table










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Nature’s Salt Factory

       Nature’s Grocery Store for salt    

Nature’s Salt Bowl


 Collecting Sea Salt




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Drying   Sea Salt

Using Nature’s salt  

  Enjoying Nature’s

     Salt with keffy







Human  Resources



Dionysis Synodinos- Vallianos The story of collecting Sea Salt, the who, what, when, where, why and how.



Elaine Synodinoy-Vallianoy

Sandra Kontarini


  Salt Collector











Fading Religious Traditions


The Lenten Lady


The Lenten Lady



  A very old Lenten tradition, which very few people carry on today, is the Lenten Lady.  In general, the generations that were born after 1950 do not hold to this tradition.

The Lenten Lady was a very practical device, developed by people who were illiterate, for understanding the number of weeks remaining in Lent.  It was also an interesting method used for reminding people that the Lenten Season was a time for fasting, and exactly what foods they were permitted to eat. 

 By looking at the above picture, one can see that the Lenten Lady was very cleverly designed.  This was done so that the people could easily relate to her.  On her head she wore a scarf. This was a practical form of dress at the time the doll was first created, for at that time almost all women spent part of their day working on the farm and required protection from the sun. A very noticeable characteristic of the doll is that she has no mouth.  This was to remind everyone that Lent is a time of fasting.  Around her neck is a cross, which was to impress on minds of the family members the special meaning of the Lenten and Easter seasons.  As for her clothes, she was usually drawn in the local traditional dress.  She was always shown carrying a basket.  There are two theories about what she carried in it.  One is that she carried red eggs, which she was bringing for Easter.  The other is that she carried the foods which one should eat during Lent, “Foods of the Fast’.  This lady is carrying vegetables in her basket. 

The most significant characteristic of the doll, and the basic reason for her existence, is her legs - she has seven.  Since the people of this time were illiterate, they unable to read newspapers, church announcements or calendars, which noted the number of weeks remaining in Lent.  It was important to know in which Lenten week the family was living, for there were special church services to be attended and specific foods to be prepared at certain times.  Each of the 7 legs represents one week of Lent.  It is noted that one of the legs is larger than the others; it represents Passion Week.  In Greek, this week is called Megali Evdomada. - Great Week, Significant Week, Passion Week.. 

The systems of the construction and the use of the doll were quite simple.  The day of the Carnival, the Sunday of the 7th week before Easter and the day before Kathara Deftera – the beginning of Lent, the lady of the house would draw the doll on paper, and hang it on the wall, usually in the dinning area.  The first Sunday after the Carnival, she would cut one of the small legs from the doll.  Each Sunday thereafter, she would cut off another small leg.  Thus, she would know the present week of Lent. She would also be aware that, when only one small leg was left, it was time to Spring clean the house, so that all the work would be completed before Passion Week. When only the large leg remained, she would know that it was the last week before Easter, the week to prepare the special Easter breads and cookies, and to dye the Easter eggs.

On the afternoon of Easter Sunday, the doll was burned; she was never kept for another year.  The belief behind this is that Lent had been celebrated and was finished, Christ was crucified and had risen, and therefore, the use of the doll was completed and she must cease to exist.  She could not be thrown away – for she would remain – the only way to destroy her, was to burn her.  The next year, the lady of the home would draw a new doll during the weekend of the Carnival.




Human  Recourses


Panagis Katsivelis


     The tradition of the Lenten Lady, her construction and purpose




Evaggelos Synodinos-Vallianos


     The tradition of the Lenten Lady and her construction.



      Fading Religious Traditions


Dyeing Easter Egg  -  Natural Red

      Dyeing Easter Eggs  -  Natural Red


Gathering Red Seaweed

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Dyeing   Easter Eggs 

   The Red Seaweed




Eggs in the Seaweed and water

Dyed Easter Eggs

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Non oiled eggs on the right.

Oiled eggs on the  left.




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Eggs displayed in a basket


It is the tradition of the Orthodox Church to present red eggs to loved ones and friends on Easter morning.  The tradition of presenting red eggs is not vanishing; however, the method of dyeing them has changed over the past 30 years.

Before 1970, the majority of the people of Kefalonia dyed their eggs in the traditional manner.  They went to the sea, about one week before Easter, and picked a certain species of red seaweed from the rocks along the coast.  About 9 o'clock, on Saturday morning of Easter Week, the lady of the house put the red seaweed in a large pot of water and placed all of the eggs to be dyed on top of the seaweed. In the uncovered pot, she slowly heated them to the boiling point;  allowed them to boil, on medium heat, for ten minutes and then removed them from the heat and left them rest in the water for half an hour.  At that time, she took them out of the dye, rinsed them in cold water and dried them with a towel.  After they cooled, so that they could be handled, she wiped them with a cloth, which had been lightly moistened with olive oil, and then set them in a bowl.  The purpose of wiping the shells with olive oil was to fill all the pores, so that the surface would be smooth and shinny. Later in the morning she arranged them very attractively on a plate or in a basket, and put them in a safe place until Easter morning. 

Early Easter morning, she gave one to each member of the family saying,” Christ has risen!”  After everyone in her family had an egg, she exchanged red eggs with other relatives, close friends and neighbors, repeating the phrase, “Christ has risen!” 

Over the past twenty years, with the introduction of packaged red dye in the supermarket, this tradition began slowly to fade.  Many young families began using the packaged dye for coloring their eggs.  However, over the past eight years, some of the private stores have been selling small packages of the red seaweed, which the storeowners had pick from the sea; and amazingly, the seaweed sold very quickly. It appears that many people enjoy using the seaweed to dye their Easter eggs; but that they are unwilling to go into the cold April sea, and walk on the dangerously jagged rocks. The collecting of enough seaweed to dye 30 eggs requires about one hour, and often leaves the collector with cuts and bruises.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             This is an example of a tradition, which had begun to fade, but which was saved by a few people who were interested in carrying it on. Even if for a few, the selling of the seaweed was just for economic gain, at least another generation has had the experience of dyeing Easter eggs with red seaweed.  

The Greeks have a tradition of tapping the Easter Eggs to see who has the stronger egg.  One person holds his egg and the other taps it exactly on the top.  One egg breaks.  Then they turn the eggs around and each reverses his position in the tapping.  The one who finds the hardest egg, puts it in a safe place in the basket and uses it each time he taps with some one, thus always being the winner.


          Υια  Να Τσουγκρισουμε  !!!!



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           Let's tap to see whose egg is stronger !!!!



                 Human Resources


Elaine Boldrick Synodinoy-Vallianoy


     Information on the dyeing of Easter eggs.  




Lula Synodinoy


     Information on the picking of red seaweed.
Filoxeni Magnalinoy and Lula Synodinoy  

     Seaweed collectors.