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Best Olive Varieties to Eat

Olives are eaten whole, used in pizza and even squeezed for Oil. Its numerous health benefits and wide variety of taste makes it one of the best food in the world. Their tree are also used to make some of the Best Wooden Utensils around. Its makes little to no sense to not eat this wonderful fruit. The only thing that can be confusing is finding what olive varieties is the best to eat. There are so many different varieties that it can be a little confusing.

Best Olive Varieties

In the countries that produce olives, they have many different varities. All of which have their own distinct flavor and taste.

Greece – Kalamata Olive

Greece is perhaps most famous for their olive. It is a essential part of their diets. Some of the more well know one are amfissa, elistes, hondroelia, nafplion, thasos and more. However, the most well known olives is the Kalamatas olive. They are giant almond shaped purple olive. Cured in a ride wine vinegar brine, they are the best olives that you can buy from Greece. Great for eating whole with salamis and salads.

Italy – Cerignola Olives

In Italy the best olives are the Cerignola Olives. Naturally cured Cerignola Olives are brown in color. Mass produced one are bright green and lacks the flavor of the naturally flavored one. These olives are best eaten with a charcuterie board and cheese.

France – Nicoise Olive

In France, no online is more famous than the Nicoise olive. They are often used in the dish nioise salad where you pair olive with tuna. Obviously, Nicois olive are best used in salads. You can also use it in making pizza.

Spain – Arbequina Olive

Arbequina Olive are prized for its oil. However, a lot of times they are just eaten by itself. Great as a bar snack with a cold glass of beer. They are usually brown and small in size.

Black Olives vs Green Olives

The color of the olives will depend on the time it was harvested. Green olives are picked before it is fully ripe while black are picked when its ripped. However, Black Olives are not always black. They can vary from purple to brown. It really depends on the variety and type of olive that is picked. Some examples are Kalamata and Nicoise olive.

In terms of flavor, green olives then to be more sharp and sour. Black olives are more savory and more complex in flavor. Both are great to eat but have very different taste. You probably want to use green olives for martini because of its stringent flavor.

Olive Varieties Curing

Before olive can be eaten, it need to be cured. Olives that are eaten straight from the tree can be really bitter due to the chemical glucosides. To get rid of the taste, manufacturer will cure the olives. This can be done in many ways. The traditional method is a simple salt water solution. Eventually the bitter flavor will be drawn off. Some producer will also add their own spice and flavoring to make different flavor.

Today Lye Curing is the most commonly used method to cure Olive. It only takes around six to twelve hour to cure a olive. However the downside is that it can remove the natural flavor of the olives.

Two other less used methods are salt curing and sun curing. With salt curing they place the olive in a bed of salt to destroy the enzyme. Dry brinning is where they leave the olive on the branch until it wrinkles. Usually this is the best way to cure olive but also the most expensive.

Pitted Olive vs Unpitted Olives

All Olives have a seed in them. Those that do not have seeds are known as pitted olive. While they may be convient to eat and cook with, they come with drawbacks. Since pitted Olive will absorb brine at a quicker rate, manufacturer will often add chemical to firm up its texture. However, this doesnt work that well and as a result, they are mushier then unpitted olives. Since the flesh is more open to the brine, they also tend to be more saltier.

Having said that, I still buy the pitted olive. I just couldn’t be bother to pit the olive myself. Its more work than you think.

Best Olive Varieties to Eat Thoughts

Olives are a fantastic fruit to eat. It goes well on salads, bread or just eaten by itself. Since there are a wide varieties of flavor, I recommend you try them for yourself. You can often get samples in the deli bar. Eventually you will find your favorite. To me, nothing beats the tried and true Kalamata olive. But everyone taste differs.


Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating

Like Olives, check out our articles on the Best Olive Oil for cooking and dipping bread.

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