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Olives: a Staple of Mediterranean Cuisine

There are mainly two types of olives; black and green olives. The rest are the further varieties of the these two types.

Raw olives are incredibly bitter, so once harvested they are cured and then usually preserved in salt or brine. They can be harvested at any stage – the young, immature fruit is green and it turns from red-brown to black once fully ripened.

Black olives have more oil in them than the green olives and green olives are often found pitted as they are larger, firmer and easier to pit than the black varieties. Pitted varieties are often stuffed with such flavors as capers, nuts, feta or anchovies.

Popular Varieties of Black Olives:

Kalamata
The “King of Olives”, originating from and named after the region of Kalamata in Greece, this olive is black, medium-sized and has a rich, fruity, salty flavor.

Nicoise
A small black French olive, grown around Nice along the French Riviera, the Nicoise has a rich, mellow and nutty flavor and is traditionally used in the salad of the same name.

Nyon
These black olives are from the Provence region of France. They are usually dry-cured and packed in olive oil, are chewy with a mild, leaving a pleasantly salty bitter aftertaste.

Ligurian
A small oily Italian black olive known for its vibrant flavor, the Ligurian olive is a good addition to fish dishes as they are brined with a lot of salt.

Lugano
Shiny and Italian, this salty olive is often packed with olive leaves and served with hors d’oeuvres. It is medium size and blackish-brown.

Popular Varieties of Green Olives:

Castelvetrano
This Sicilian gem, is the nibble of choice at any cocktail party with it’s the vivid, almost unnaturally green color and mild, buttery flavor.

Manzanilla
Manzanilla is a Spanish variety of green olives. They have salty and a bit of a tangy, spicy flavor. Often pitted and stuffed with pimiento. Manzanilla means “little apple” in Spanish.

Picholine
Picholine is a French variety of green olives. Subtle, light and mild salty, together with a creamy, nutty, and crunchy flavor; it’s understandable why Picholine makes the ideal choice for savory snacks, appetizers and antipasto platters.

Sevillano
As its name suggests, originates from the Sevilla region in Spain. One of the largest green varieties, it’s also known as the “Spanish Queen. This olive has a light fruity flavor and goes especially well with a mild cheese like feta or goat cheese.

Cerignola
Harvested in the Puglia region of Italy, they are big green tasty olives that are often found stuffed with peppers, cheese or capers.

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