Varieties of Olives

Olive tree and its fruit have some historical value and had been mentioned many times in the OldTestament, ancient books and even in Koran. It was estimated that some 7,000 years ago the cultivation of Olives started. Way back in 3000 BC were olives are dominant and were commercially grown over Crete. The ancient Greeks were very fond of olives and used them to nourish their skin and hair by rubbing olive oil all over.

The Olive tree originated and is native to Western Asia and the Mediterranean region and quickly spread to nearby countries. The introduction of olive cultivation to the New World begun with Spanish colonists and made its way to Chile and Peru. The very first olive seedling was planted in Lima, Peru in 1560 by Antonio de Rivera. The Olive tree reached the land of South America which has a dry humid Pacific coast climate which was very similar to the usual arid climate of the Mediterranean. By 18 th century cultivation of olives were established by Spanish missionaries in California USA. By 1860’s olive tree cultivation prospered commercially and had been a successful business venture since then. Today olive production is a thriving industry with many kinds of variety made from cultivation.

They are cultivated according to their distinct and unique qualities through the process of cultivars. Cultivar is a selective breeding and cultivation which in turn produces the variety of olives around the world today.

Olives come in many varieties depending on the region where it originated and cultivated. Black olives have a more subtle, nutty and fruity taste than green ones while the green olive varieties have a bitter taste and are cured much longer than the black ones.

The Black Olives Variety:

  • Kalamata or Kalamon
    hese are the most popular variety Greek black olives.Kalamata olives got its name after a Greek city called Kalamata. The Kalamata olives were cultivated from Kalamon olive tree. Harvested only when fully ripened to have the optimum rich color and flavor. This large black olive has a dark purple color and shaped like an almond. This olive fruit gives out a smooth meaty taste. Usually preserved in vinegar, olive oil or in wine.
  • Mavroelia (Greek black olive) A small black olive from the Messinia district, the tasty fruit is picked when ripe but well before overripening begins and before the olives spoil and shrivel from frost. They have to be transported as quickly as possible to the processing plant where they are sorted, washed and immersed in a brine solution.
  • Ponentine- is the Italian variety of black olives.
    Usually preserved in brine with some salt. These black olives have a milder flavor.
  • Nicoise is a French small black olive, harvested only once fully ripened.
    These olives have a larger pit and are often preserved with the stems and a variety of herbs. The Nicoise olive exudes a smooth nutty flavor.
  • Liguria is a black Italian variety of olives that have a stronger flavor.
    They are usually packed in brine and salt with the inclusion of stems.
  • Gaeta
    This is a popular Italian black olive which is cured in dry salt and some oil which is usually packed with rosemary and other herbs. Has a mild flavor and a wrinkled look.
  • Alfonsos
    Alfonsos is considered as one of the best black olives. This olive is smooth and has a distinct robust taste great for antipasto salads.
  • Mission
    This type originated in the historical olive plantation in California. Typically black and used for most table consumptions.
  • Gemlik
    This olive originated from Turkey. This is a medium sized black olive that has a higher level of oil content. Very common in the Turkish breakfast and is traditionally cured.
  • Lugano
    A very popular Italian black olive variety which exudes a strong salty flavor. Preserved together with the leaves in brine with some herbs.

The Green Olives Variety:

  • Halkidiki Olives
    This is a large Greek green olive that is oval in shape and commonly harvested while still young. Cured in brine and has a firmer meat texture that provides a soft yet full flavor which is a little tart and with some hint of peppery taste.
  • Manzanilla
    A famous Spanish green olive variety which are brined and cured lightly in lye.Packed with lactic acid and citric acid and have a little spiciness and salty flavor. Available in pitted, stuffed and unpitted.
  • Sicilian are medium sized is crisp and has a salty flavor
    Preserved in brine with salt and in lactic acid. Usually pitted and stuffed.
  • Picholine
    Picholine are green olives of French origin. Freshly brined right after being picked in citric acid.Has a subtle and mild salty taste.
  • Spanish
    Spanish green olives are the most popular green olives around the world. Brine and fermented in some acid solution for a good period of 4 to 6 months. The long processed of fermenting gives it a unique salty flavor which makes the Spanish green olives the top of its class.
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