Olives are the cornerstone of the famously-healthy Mediterranean diet known for their healthy fats. Olives aren’t just making an appearance on your relish tray at special gatherings, or drowning at the bottom of your martini glass. This small, oval antioxidant rich fruit packs a punch of flavor and are so diverse they can be found just about everywhere you look. Ground into spreads, diced into relishes and tapenades, tossed in salads, floating in a Bloody Mary or baked into crispy breads, olives are popping up everywhere.
The olive flavor can be fruity, salty, bitter, smooth, nutty, buttery or pungent.
Olives come in many varieties, not just black and green! Black olives have a more subtle, nutty and fruity taste while the green olive varieties offer a bitter taste. Some olives are ideal for their fruit and others are best when pressed for oil producing liquid gold, aka Olive Oil. Olives are rarely eaten right off of the tree; they require special processing to reduce their intrinsic bitterness, caused by the glycoside oleuropein, which is concentrated in their skin. Take a look at some of our favorite olive varieties.
Named after the city of Kalamata, these large purple olives offer a smooth meaty texture. Their salty, rich and fruity taste is a great compliment to your salad. These olives are typically preserved in wine vinegar or olive oil. Almond in shape and deep dark purple, these olives can be easily found at your supermarket or deli counter. We love them in our mixed greens.
Spanish green olive, available un-pitted and/or stuffed, lightly lye-cured then packed in salt and lactic acid brine. Most commonly found garnishing your martini and readily available on your grocery store shelf.
French green olive, mildly fruity, nutty and firm, with a snappy, clean finish. They are perfect for snacking, especially when paired with sharp cheese.
French black olive, harvested fully ripe, small in size, rich, nutty, mellow flavor, high pit-to-meat ratio, often packed with herbs and stems intact. The nutty, sweet mellow flavor of this French black olive is delicious paired with cheese, bread and wine. If you’re a tuna fan, try Salad Nicoise!
Italian black olive, salt-brine cured, with a fruity and sweet flavor, sometimes packed with stems. Best used as a table olive however, the oil can also be used for cakes as it has a much sweeter flavor than most olive oils.
Italian black olive, salt-brine cured then packed in vinegar, mild in flavor. Ponenetine olives are served both simple as a snack and in alcoholic drinks or tossed into various veggie or green salads. Some are marinated and fermented into lime juice, then canned and served for a much more sour taste.
Italian black olive, dry-salt cured, then rubbed with oil, wrinkled in appearance, mild flavor, often packed with rosemary and other herbs. Gaeta olives are great with cheese or as an addition to main dishes such as poultry or fish. Ahi tuna and gaeta olives pair fabulously together. Caution when cooking olives, they will turn bitter (an unwelcome bitter) if cooked too long.
Italian black olive, very salty, sometimes packed with olive leaves. Lugano’s are popular at tastings as they pair wonderfully with hors d’oeuvres.
Californian, salt-brine cured and preserved with lactic acid, very crisp. Sevillano olives are perfect with crème based dishes. Best enjoyed with sour cream pastas and cheese salads. Sevillano olive oils can also be found in cosmetics. These little gems are healthy for the inside and outside of the body.
With so many varieties available, there is an olive for nearly every palate. Come to Tastealotta and taste our olives and be inspired to cook with them. My palate loves them speared and floating in a spicy Bloody Mary. Long live the olive!