Ioulia Olive Oil returns to sell its ‘liquid gold’ at the Park City Farmer’s Market
Park City Farmer’s Market
Noon to 5 p.m. every Wednesday through mid-October
Silver King lot at Park City Mountain Resort
For the past two seasons, the Ioulia Greek Olive Oil Company has given Park City Farmer’s Market patrons a taste of what Grecians call “liquid gold,” said the company’s proprietor Christina Bhanos.
“They call it that, because the oil is considered to be as valuable as gold, which goes back to ancient times,” Bhanos said. “The oil is the fountain of youth for the Greeks.”
Bhanos and her husband Stellios Antonopoulos have again secured a kiosk at the Park City Farmer’s Market that is open from noon to 5 p.m. every Wednesday at Park City Mountain Resort’s Silver King lot.
The Ioulia Greek Olive Oil Company is named after Bhanos’ mother-in-law, Ioulia Antonopoulos, who passed away in 2017.
“She was one of 11 brothers and sisters, and they all have their own olive grove in Greece,” Bhanos said.
The oil comes from Ioulia’s brother’s farm, located in a little village called Schilolaka, which is 40 kilometers — about 25 miles — outside the city of Kalamata, Bhanos said.
Kalamata is 110 miles southwest of Athens.
“We have about 3,000 trees that grow the koroneiki olive,” she said. “The trees are between 200 to 300 years old, and they aren’t planted in rows, which was the way that the ancient Greeks planted them.”
Bhanos said her husband’s cousin, Dimitris Kiskiras, who is Ioulia’s nephew, takes good care of the trees, which grow right off the coast of the Mediterranian Sea.
“When he harvests the olives, he keeps the trees cut into umbrella shapes to keep the branches low so they can reach the fruit,” Bhanos said.
Because the trees grow in a staggered fashion, the olives must be harvested by hand by hand to prevent them from bruising, according to Bhanos.
The harvest runs from November until February each year, she said.
“The fruit is put onto tarps and taken directly to the village press within hours of picking,” she said. “We use a cold press, and let the oil sit and naturally filter at a warehouse at Dimitris’ home.”
The oil is poured into 4.33-gallon metal containers that are shipped 45 containers at a time from Greece to Chicago.
“From Chicago the oil is freighted to Salt Lake City, and we hand bottle it in Park City” Bhanos said. “It’s a big process to get the oil here to the mountains.”
The oil is sold in 16- or eight-ounce bottles.
“We also sell various spices and salts separately to make infusions,” Bhanos said. “We never put the spices in the bottles with the oil, to eliminate the risk of the oil becoming rancid.”
Bhanos describes the oil’s taste as “smooth and buttery,” citing the family orchard’s age and location as the reason why.
“You get a little tingling in the upper back part of your mouth, which tells you of the oil’s antioxidant properties,” she said. “But you don’t want that tingling in down the throat, because that may a sign the oil may be rancid.”
Bhaos, Antonopoulos and their twin children – Electra and her brother, Paris, Antonopoulos — moved to the United States from Greece in 2012 as the country experienced economic crisis.
“We’re the only ones from my husband’s side of the family who live in the U.S.,” Bhanos, a Greek American, said. “I wanted our children to have the opportunities that only this country can give them.”
Ioulia Greek Olive Company made its Park City Farmer’s Market debut last year with the help of market founder Volker Ritzinger.
“We wanted to do the farmer’s market, because we are, in essence, farmers,” Bhanos said.
The family also participated in Recycle Utah’s Harvest Fest last fall and the Park Silly Holiday Bazaar last winter.
“We are finding our way in how to be available to the community members who are looking for our oils,” Bhanos said. “We are now getting the word out in the community and working on educating people about the quality and benefit of a single-sourced, single-farm olive oil production.“
In addition to the Park City Farmer’s Market, Ioulia Greek Olive Oil products are available at The Deer Valley Grocery Cafe and by visiting iouliaoliveoil.com.
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