Olives are the fruit of a tree native to the Mediterranean area. They must be cured before consumption and cannot be eaten raw. Olives are eaten as a finger food as well as in recipes. Olives are pressed to extract healthy olive oil.
Common and Other Names:
olive, olivea, oleaster
Many markets and ethnic specialty stores have deli departments with a variety of brined olives available in small and large amounts. Olives are also readily available canned and jarred. If you have an olive tree, you can try brining your own.
Select olives based on your own personal tastes or the recommendation of your specific recipe. When selecting bulk olives, avoid any that are soft and mushy.
Olive Varieties and Forms:
Olives are available in many forms: oil-cured, water-cured, brine-cured, dry-cured, lye-cured, pitted, unpitted, stuffed, and unstuffed. The most popular black and green olive varieties are: manzanilla, picholine, kalamata, nicoise, liguria, ponentine, gaeta, lugano, sevillano. Click for more information.
Unopened cans and jars should be stored in a cool, dry place up to one year. Once opened, canned olives should be removed from the can to a glass container and covered in the canning brine. Refrigerate and use within two weeks. Bulk olives in oil should be stored in the refrigerator, where they will last for up to two months. Discard any that become soft.
Miscellaneous Olive Information:
The only difference between green olives and black olives is ripeness. Unripe olives are green and fully ripe olives are black. Olives must be cured before eating. Fresh olives from the tree are unbearably bitter and inedible.