Olives and olive oil are essential ingredients in many cuisines around the world, and they have been used as an essential part of the diet for many centuries ago. Not everyone was privileged to eat olives back in the day, but now the times have changed. Today, we can eat olives worldwide, like Italian olives, which we think are one of the best olives. Or the Greek olives that are known to be great.
If you know little and want to know more about different olives and olive varieties, be sure to keep reading.
Olive trees have been present here on Earth for thousands of years, and they’ve been harvested for their fruit for more than 8,000 years. Isn’t that impressive? And yes, olives are fruits; they are not vegetables despite their spicy and savory taste.
Olive trees are one of the oldest trees globally, and one of the oldest ones people cultivate. Olives are native to Syria and Asia Minor, but today you can find them all along the Mediterranean coast and in the United States and South America. They thrive in subtropical zones, rocky soil, and especially sea air.
One of the indicators of quality is the harvesting process of olives. This process is highly labor-intensive and time-consuming. And yes, we are talking about the traditional way of harvesting olives, which is the best way to harvest them. And that includes hand-picking every olive. So, why is this method better? It’s because, by hand-picking every fruit, you are making sure that the fruit is ripe enough and it doesn’t bruise. This practice will ensure you the best olives with rich taste.
However, this practice is time-consuming and, by that, very unprofitable. So, a more cost-efficient method is shaking olive trees with machines or sticks or even leaving the fruit until it falls off. This will result in overripe olives, or not ripe enough, bruised, and not looking and tasting well.
You know there are green, brown, black, red, and purple olives, but do you know there is only one olive tree? Yes, all of the olives you can come across are coming from the same tree. The color indicates their ripeness, and the darker color it was riper when it was harvested.
The key difference of different olives besides the color is the taste. The green ones will have a nutty flavor and a firmer texture, while the darker ones will always be softer and richer in taste.
The final product’s texture and flavor are highly influenced by the brine and trust us, you wouldn’t want to eat an olive before the fermentation process. But an olive without the brine is different from the ones you are used to eating. Also, the fermentation process is not the only process you can use to cure olives. You can cure them in brine, water, dry, salt, and sun or air. And then there’s lye curing, that’s the most cost-efficient process, but it ends with a final product that’s not too tasty. It would be best to avoid the lye cured ones and opt for one of the other olive varieties.
If you want to enjoy the authentic taste and the richness of different olive varieties, you should choose the ones that are not lye cured, and there are many different olives that you can try. We will share different types of olives and what we think are the best ones available.
We need to start our list with Italian olives because we think they are the best ones. And Castelvetrano are the best-known Italian olives. They are from Sicily, bright green, and have a mild flavor. If by any chance you don’t like olives but would like to give them another try, you should try these. We bet you’ll love them, especially if you pair them with white wine.
Another type of Italian olives is the Cerignola ones, from the Puglia region. They are much bigger than the Castelvetrano ones, and they taste differently. They are soft and buttery, and their size lets you stuff them with anything that you like. You can stuff them with garlic, anchovies, or even capers and eat them with some good-quality cheese.
The ultimate Greek olive is Kalamata olive, one of the best-known and one of the most famous olive varieties in the world. They are purply in color, oval in shape, and have a smoky and rich flavor. They are preserved in red wine vinegar, red wine, and olive oil, giving them a super exciting flavor. You can eat them alone to experience their authentic flavor or make a tapenade and eat it with a toasted piece of sourdough.
Amfissa olives are another Greek variety that is loved globally. Traditionally these olives are used in stews and soups, but they also go great with cheese or different types of cured meats. They are hand-picked very ripe, giving them a unique softness and mild fruity flavor.
We are traveling to France for unique Nyon olives. They are tiny and have a bit of a bitter flavor. They are first dry-cured and later placed in the brine, making them unique and packed with lovely aromas. The process of producing them is fascinating, and they are one of the most exciting types of olives.
Have you ever tried a Niçoise salad? One of the essential ingredients of this salad is Niçoise olives. They are French olive varieties, and you’ll love them for their herbal flavor and specific aroma. Try them in a Niçoise salad, or eat them on their own.
Yes, Spain also has some great types of olives, and Gordal is one of them. These big and meaty olives are rich in flavor and are often served as tapas across Spain. They go great along with Jamon or other cured meats.
Manzanilla olives are oval-shaped and cured in brine. They are crisp and have a slightly smoky flavor. You’ll find them stuffed with pimientos or served with good-quality olive oil and minced garlic.
We are back with Italian olives because they are one of the best ones in the world. Liguria olives are grown close to Niçoise olives, and they are alike. They are super tasty due to the herbs in the brine like bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme.
We will end our list with another variety of Italian olives, and these are also from Puglia. They are unique due to the different curing processes. They can be dry-cured or brine-cured. The result is similar: small, wrinkled, purple, and brown olives taste superior. They are tender with a citrusy flavor and are great for snacking.
If your heart craves Italian dishes, we invite you to visit one of Miami’s best restaurants, Mi’talia. A restaurant that successfully combines traditional Italian dishes and food staples with modern food trends. We are happy to serve you! Don’t hesitate to call us and book your reservation today.