Olives… we love to eat them and make oil from them. But how well do you know our little pitted friends?
Did you know?
Olives are fruits. It’s true, and if you eat 16, they count as one serving of fruit!
The olive branch is a symbol that is derived from customs in Greece. “Extending an olive branch” symbolizes a desire to make peace. While it was derived in ancient Greece, it is found in every culture and religion in the Mediterranean basin. The United States incorporated an olive branch in its Great Seal. The Seal illustrates an American eagle clutching an olive branch in its talon. This illustration represents the founding principle of “The power of peace” is superior to the power of war.
An olive tree can live for a long, long time. Olive trees typically live 300-600 years. The oldest tree on record is 2,000 years old!
The largest producing country is Spain. Followed by Italy and Greece.
Not all olives can be used for oil. For example, the Kalamata olive. This popular olive is grown in the grown in the south of Greece on the Pelopennese coast. There is no “green” version of the Kalamata and most olive oils are pressed from unripe olives. The Kalamata olive is only harvested once it’s fully ripe and full of delicious and fruity flavor.
There are dozens of varieties of olives. Olives come in many varieties, depending on the region, but are categorized as either green or black. Black olives have a more subtle, nutty and fruity flavor, and green are more bitter and are cured a lot longer than black. Find a store that has an olive bar and pick up a variety of black and green ones. You’ll be amazed at how each one has a different taste and texture.
A great way to use a variety of olives is to make an olive tapenade. You can use as a sandwich spread, on grilled crostini as an appetizer or spread over grilled steak, fish or chicken. Below is a super simple recipe:
1 C Kalamata olives, pitted
1 C green olives, pitted
10 oil-cured olives, pitted
1 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 T capers, rinsed and drained
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 canned anchovy fillets (optional)
1 garlic clove, chopped
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until olives are finely chopped. Store in refrigerator.
Susan and Bridget