Olives have been held in high esteem in Mediterranean cultures. To the ancient Greeks, the olive tree was a gift from the gods. Today, olives are still recognized as a delightfully special fruit~here are a few to consider:
Alfonso~ Chilean Alfonsos are cured in a wine or wine vinegar solution that gives them a deep purple color and tart, slightly bitter flavor. It is a large olive, very tender with soft skin. Serve Alfonsos straight from the brine or sprinkle with vinegar, olive oil and oregano.
Atalanti~ From the town of Atalanti in eastern Greece these purple-green Greek olives are pale in color and medium-round with a luscious, fruity flavor and fleshy texture. They are packed in a vinegar brine. Great with sharp goat cheese or creamy Feta.
California Black~ a firm black olive with mild flavor, they are machine pitted or sliced. Green olives are cured in a lye solution that causes them to oxidize and turn black.
California Sicilian-Style~ are large green olives that boast a sharp taste. In 1769 olives were introduced to California by the Spanish. Today, California produces about 200,000 tons of commercial olives per year.
Chinese Preserved ~are shriveled medium-sized olives. Chinese Preserved olives are cured with salt, sugar or honey and licorice root.
Gaeta~ come from Italy. Small, mahogany-colored olives with a wrinkled appearance, they carry a flavorful, smokey, earthy taste. They are dry-salt cured or brine -cured, rubbed with oil and often packed with rosemary or other herbs.
Greek Green~ "Prasines" are firm yet fleshy, large, round and a purplish green in color. They have a subdued, fruity flavor and crunchy texture. Try in salads or marinades.
Green Green Cracked~ "Tsakistes" are large, firm green olives with cracked flesh, but not to the stone. They marinate in oil mixed with herbs, garlic, lemon, onion or fennel. Their sharp flavor pairs nicely with cheese. Try them in potato or bean salads.
Ionian~ Ionian olives are fresh tasting Greek olives with a dull-green color and tender flesh. They are picked young and cured in a light brine. Serve as is or sprinkled with lemon juice, olive oil and chopped parsley.
Kalamata ~Deep purple and almond shaped, these olives are picked ripe and cured in red wine vinegar brine. They originated in the city of Kalamata in the Southern Peloponeese of Greece. You can buy them whole, pitted, halved or sliced. Use these salty, pungent olives in classic Greek salad with Feta, olive bread, pizza, or puttanesca sauce.
Liguria~ hail from the Italian seaside town of Liguria near the French border. Small, black brine cured olives, they are vibrantly flavorful with a pleasant bite and sometimes packed with stems on. Try on pizza or your favorite Italian Fish Dish!
Lugano~ another Italian olive, these are packed with olive leaves. Lugano's are a salty, black olive.
Manzanilla ~Originally from the Andalusia district of Spain, these olives are small to medium Spanish green olives that carry a smoky flavor reminiscent of Almonds. They are sold unpitted or stuffed with such things as pimientos, almonds, anchovies, jalapenos, onions or capers. Snack on Manzanilla's while sipping Sherry, or use in your favorite chicken or fish dish-great on salads!
Mission~ Another California black olive, they can be purchased pitted, sliced or chopped. Mission olives are really green olives that get their black color from the curing process.
Moroccan Oil-Cured~ Ebony black, Moroccan Oil-Cured olives are black with wrinkled, leathery looking skin with a smokey taste. Recommended for cooking rather than snacking.
Nafplion~ These brine-cured Greek olives are the traditional olive served with taramasalata, a Greek caviar-style spread. Small, firm, salty and pungent, they are named for a small seaside town in Greece.
Nicoise ~This French olive is black, petite and rich in flavor. The nutty, sweet mellow flavor of this French black olive is delicious paired with cheese, bread and wine. They are often packed with stems intact and herbs, giving these olives special character. From the Provence region of France (but also grown in Italy and Morocco). Nicoise olives are cured in brine and packed in olive oil. If your a tuna fan, try Salad Nicoise!
Picholine~ are salt-brine cured green olives from Provence, they are usually marinated with coriander and herbes de Provence. Long, slender and green, Picholine olives have a subtle, lightly salty flavor and crunchy texture.
Ponentine~ are a mild, purplish black Italian olive which are salt-brine cured then packed in vinegar. Like California olives these olives are graded into sizes labeled small, medium, large, extra large, jumbo, colossal and supercolossal.
Provencal~ are small, pale green marinated with herbs and imported from France. Lovely with cheese and appetizer breads.
Sevillano or Queen~ as the name implies, Sevillano's originated in Seville, Spain. These green olives are large, round, salt-brine cured with a bit of lemon and bay leaf. Try with Feta or Goat Cheese.
Sicilian~ Sometimes pitted and stuffed with pimento, garlic or jalapeno, these are large, green sour Italian olives usually marinated with herbs.
Spanish~ is a common green olive that is often stuffed. They come in various sizes, pitted and unpitted. The riper the olive, the darker the hue.
Taggiasca~ from Liguria, Italy these small black olives are mild, not to salty, pitted, flattened and packed in oil. Great in Italian pasta sauces, rice salads or Greek Salads.
Tailladees~ are a slightly sour, aromatic black French olive. Tailladees can be purchased stuffed, pitted or unpitted. Try one in your next cocktail.
Tanches~ The French Tanches olives are often used to make savory,, dark green olive oil. One of many black olives, they are large and redish-brown in color.
Throumbes or Thassos~ These Greek Olives are salt-cured and stored in olive oil. They are rich in flavor with a delicious, chewy texture that adds to salads and stews. Thassos olives are traditionally served with Myzithra cheese.
Contributed by DiB's
Season: available year-round
How to store: Olives should be completely covered by brine to keep them safe and fresh. Do not discard the brine until all the olives are gone. Refrigerate open containers of olives.