Friday, September 25, 2020

Olives - Green, Black, and More.

My father loved buying large bottles of olives, usually black, and added extra garlic to the solution.  He put it in the back of the fridge for a month or so and then enjoyed the newly flavored olives.  Once he had the bottle with properly seasoned solution, he'd keep adding more olives every time he ran out.  When he brought the olives out, the kitchen smelled of garlic. 

So growing up, we had the standard black olives and those green ones stuffed with pimentos.  Otherwise, I didn't know that anything else existed.  It was only after I left home, I discovered there was a whole world of olives out there.

Olives are actually a fruit.  They are considered drupes or fruits with a single stone such as peaches or cherries.  They differ due to their low amount of sugar with a high percent of oil.  Unfortunately olives are rather bitter until they are cured.  Furthermore, green and black olives are the same except the green ones are harvested at the beginning of the season while the black ones are picked later in the season when they are softer, darker, and riper.

Olives can be cured by soaking in a brine, or in water, or packed in salt for dry curing, or placed in lye, or left on the tree to cure.  The fastest quickest way is via the use of lye but that often leaves olives with a funny taste while olives left on the tree to cure is a rare method.  As with most other fruits, there are a variety of olives.

1.  Kalamata is considered the best of Greek table olives.  The deep purple, almond shaped fruit is often soaked in red wine vinegar, red wine, or olive oil that gives it, it's deep smokey flavor.  There are becoming much easier to find at grocery stores.

2. Castelvetrano  is the olive eaten by Italians as a national snack.  The bright green olive is classified as sweet.  The Castelventrano is from Sicily.

3. Cerignola are huge green olives from Italy.  They are crisp and their size makes them perfect to stuff.

4. Nyon olives come from France. They are small, deep purple, and wrinkled.  They are prepared by dry curing them before placing them in a brine to age.  

5. Nicoise olives are grown on "Le Cailletier" trees in France. .  These small olives are an important part of cooking on the French Rivera.  

6. Liguria also known as Taggiasca olives.  These small, greenish olives are from the most northwestern region of Italy, just on the other side of the border from the area of France that grow Nicoise olives. 

7. Gaeta olives hail from Puglia Italy.  The small, purplish, wrinkled, olives that are processed either by dry curing, or brine cured.  These olives are great in spaghetti.

8. Picholine olives are produced in France.  They are green and torpedo shaped.  They are large enough to serve as  appetizers.

9. Gordal or "Fat one" olives come from Andalusia, Spain. These light, yellowish green olives are extremely plump and large.  They are frequently used in tapas.

10. Alfonso olives are Chilian in origin but grown in an area under Peruvian control.  These deep purple olives are first brine cured before being soaked in red wine.

11. Mission olives are from the United States.  They have been grown in California since the 1700's and are thought to have come from Spain. Most of the harvest is used to produce olive oil but the rest of the green and purple olives are what we find in the supermarket in cans.

12. Manzanilla are beautiful green olives from Spain.  The brine cured olives have a smokey flavor.

13. Beldi olives come form Morocco.  These are some of the few that are regularly dry cured.  These deep purple almost black olives are rare and hard to find because Morocco only exports a few each year.

14. Amfissa are grown in the hills around Delphi Greece.  These olives are hand picked when they are nice and ripe.  They are brine cured to get a melt in your mouth softness.  

I've eaten a few of these but some I just discovered and other are a bit difficult to find here in Alaska.  I have a list I can look for when I down in places like Los Angeles.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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