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  • Writer's pictureErmanno Lelli


"When I was a kid, my great friend Michele Miccio was helping his father to sell amazing olives in the local market. Now, after 30 years I found his precious olives even In Hong Kong"

An Italian values olives since they have such a long and renowned history in the Mediterranean. From its importance in ancient mythology to food culture, today, much can be said about the noble olive. High-quality olives are available in various classes, flavors, colors, and curing methods, giving varied and multifunctional addition to antipasto platters. If you're interested in learning about olives, this olives atlas is a wonderful piece to start with, as it contains information about types, nutrition, health benefits, the taste, and pairing options of this much-loved fruit.

What Are Olives?

Olive originates from Latin ŏlīva, presumably via Etruscan 𐌀𐌅𐌉𐌄𐌋𐌄 (eleiva) from the old Proto-Greek form*ἐλαίϝα (*elaíwa). Olive (Olea europaea) is a subtropical evergreen broad-leaved tree (family Oleaceae) with edible fruit. Both olive fruit and olive oil are essential ingredients of Mediterranean cuisine and are widely consumed outside the region.

Olives are incredibly diverse and versatile, whether ground with spreads and tapenades, put into salads, cooked in stews and sauces, dumped into cocktails, or eaten plain. Their unique combination of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and pungent flavors makes them an essential part of every home cook's arsenal.

Where Do Olives Grow?

Historical and scientific data indicate that the olive tree (Olea europaea) was most likely first grown on the Turkish-Syrian border and spread throughout the Mediterranean, including Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Italy, Greece, France, and Spain. It is widely accepted that olive oil has been extracted from olives for the last 6,000 to 8,000 years in the eastern Mediterranean.

Olive Varieties and Types

Olives come in various colors, ranging from green to purples and black, and even pink! When an olive is harvested, its flavor and texture are determined by the precise moment of harvesting. An olive that is greener indicates that it is younger. Typically, these tender fruits are picked off the tree around September and October in the harvest time. Green olives usually have a tart flavor and a hard, crisp body. Dark olives (the reddish-purple, brown, and black varieties) are left to ripen more on the tree before being plucked – often in January – resulting in more tender and complex olives with deeper, richer flavors.

In Italy, you are pampered by so many options: green, black, elongated, or rounded, in a spicy or pickled version. Each region has its specialties and specific characteristics.

In Italy, you are pampered by so many options

For example, Ascoli Piceno's a variety of green olive, known abroad for its valuable characteristics: the tender accolade, sweet olive with an ellipsoidal shape, weighs. The pulp can represent up to 93% of the whole fruit.

Bella di Cerignola is another excellent olive variety ideal for flavoring focaccia, pasta dishes, bluefish, or white meat.

Kalamata olives are purple, with rich, lustrous skin, and a somewhat almond-shaped form. This kind is great in tapenades, but I enjoyed them just topped with roasted cauliflower.

Olives Nutrition Facts

Due to their high-fat content, olives are a special fruit. Their main fat component is oleic acid, which has several health benefits. They contain 4–6% carbohydrates, the majority of which is fiber.

Olives contain vitamin E, copper, iron, and calcium. Additionally, they may have high sodium content if packed in salt water.

Olives are also rich in antioxidants such as oleuropein, tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol, quercetin, and oleanolic acid.

Olives Health Benefits

Olives are a popular part of the Mediterranean diet. They are tied with a variety of health benefits, including the following:

  • Lower inflammation

  • Reduce microorganism growth

  • Increased glutathione levels in the blood - the most important antioxidants in the body

  • Improve cardiovascular health

  • Good for bone health

  • Prevent cancer and other chronic diseases

Olives Pairing Options

Olives have various uses in preparing recipes for unforgettable dinners.

Cerignola olives are wonderful with sour, earthy goat cheese. Niçoise olives are an excellent match for the famous Niçoise salad, which features oily tuna, hard-boiled eggs, roasted red peppers, and green beans. Picholine olives from Southern France complement Provolone cheese. The delicious Greek Kalamata olive pairs perfectly with feta cheese, pizza topping, or sun-dried tomatoes.

The Bottom Line

Olives give a savory flavor to meals and appetizers. They're low in carbohydrates but high in beneficial fats. Additionally, they are associated with a variety of health benefits, including enhanced heart health.

This stone fruit is quite simple to add to your routine and perfectly supports a nutritious and whole-food-based diet.


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