Olives

Olives

A staple of Mediterranean cuisines, olives, with their distinct pickled/salty/bitter flavor, are most often eaten out of hand, though cooks also use them to jazz up everything from pizzas to martinis.


Raw olives must be cured before they can be eaten, and the curing medium--usually lye, brine, or salt--affects their flavor and texture. So too does the olive's degree of ripeness when it's picked. Green olives are picked while unripe, which makes them denser and more bitter than brown or black olives, which stay on the tree until fully ripened.


Olives become bitter if they're cooked too long, so always add them to hot dishes at the last minute. You can make them less salty by rinsing them in cold water.


Opened cans or jars of olives should be refrigerated, but some olives can be stored at room temperature if they're submerged in brine or olive oil.


Varieties:




Agrinion olive
Agrinion olive
This is a large, green Greek olive with very tender flesh.
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Aleppo olive
This is a black, dry-cured Middle Eastern olive that's hard to find in the United States.
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Alphonso olive
Alphonso olive
This large Chilean olive is cured in a wine or wine vinegar solution, which gives it a beautiful dark purple color and tart flavor. Its flesh is very tender and slightly bitter.
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Amphissa olive
Amphissa olive
These are dark purple Greek olives that are hard to find in the U.S. They're great for snacking.
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Arauco olive
Arauco olive
These are large green Spanish olives flavored with rosemary.
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Arbequina olive
Arbequina olive
These are tiny green Spanish olives with a mild, smoky flavor. They're hard to find in the U.S.
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Atalanta olive
Atalanta olive
This is a muddy-green Greek olive with soft flesh.
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black olives
black olives
These are olives that have been allowed to ripen on the tree. American recipes that call for black olives are probably referring to the Mission olive. Other varieties of black olives are the Aleppo, Alphonso, Amphissa, black Cerignola, Gaeta, black Greek, Kalamata, Ligurian, Lugano, Moroccan dry-cured, Niçoise, Nyons, Ponentine, and Royal.
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Cerignola olive
Cerignola olive
These sweet Italian olives are large enough to stuff. Black Cerignolas are softer than green Cerignolas.
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cracked Provencal
These aromatic green olives are marinated in a solution with herbes de Provence.
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empeltre olive
empeltre olive
These Spanish black olives are soaked in sherry.
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Greek black olives
Greek black olives
A generic black Greek olive is large, dark purple and brine-cured. Popular varieties include Kalamata, Amphissa, and Royal.
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Greek green olives
Greek green olives
Napfilion and Ionian olives are the most common types of green Greek olives.
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green olives
green olives
Green olives are picked from the tree before they're completely ripened. The most common variety is the Manzanilla olive, which is often pitted and stuffed. Other green olives varieties include the Agrinion, Arauco, Arbequina, Atalanta, green Cerignola, cracked Provençal, Kura, Lucque, Nafplion, Picholine, Sevillano, and Sicilian.
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Gyeta olive
Gyeta olive
These are small, black Italian olives are either dry-cured (making them black and wrinkled) or brine-cured (making them dark purple and smooth-skinned).
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Hondroelia olive
Hondroelia olive
This is a juicy, meaty olive.
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Kalamata olive
Kalamata olive
You can find these popular Greek black olives in most large supermarkets. They're salty and have a rich, fruity flavor. These can be eaten out of hand, or used to make tapenades.
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Kura olive
This Middle Eastern cracked green olive is hard to find in the U.S.
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Ligurian olive
Ligurian olive
These small Italian olives are brine-cured.
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Lucque olive
Lucque olive
These green olives are brine-cured.
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Lugano olive
These are salty Italian black olives.
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Manzanilla olive
Manzanilla olive
These green olives are available in most supermarkets. They're often pitted and stuffed with pimento or garlic. They're often put into martinis.
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Mission olive
Mission olive
These are the common black ones that are ubiquitous in supermarkets, pizza parlors, and salad bars. They don't have as much character as European black olives.
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Moroccan dry-cured olive
Moroccan dry-cured olive
These are shriveled black olives that are somewhat bitter. They're best used for cooking rather than snacking.
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Nafplion green olive
Nafplion green olive
These are green, brine-cured Greek olives. They're somewhat salty.
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Nicoise olive
Nicoise olive
A key ingredient in Salade Niçoise, these small purplish-black olives have a distinctive sour flavor. They're great in tapenades.
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Nyon olive
Nyon olive
These black olives from France are salt-cured, which makes them wrinkly and more bitter than standard lye-cured American black olives.
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Olives
Olives
A staple of Mediterranean cuisines, olives are most often eaten out of hand, though cooks also use them to flavor everything from pizzas to martinis. Raw olives must be cured before they can be eaten, and the curing medium--usually lye, brine, or salt--affects their flavor and texture. So too does the olive's degree of ripeness when it's picked. Green olives are picked while unripe, which makes them denser and more bitter than brown or black olives, which stay on the tree until fully ripened. Olives become bitter if they're cooked too long, so always add them to hot dishes at the last minute. Opened cans or jars of olives should be refrigerated, but some olives can be stored at room temperature if they're submerged in brine or olive oil.
Learn more
Picholine olive
Picholine olive
Picholines are green, torpedo-shaped olives that are brine-cured. Those made in Provence are marinated with coriander and herbes de Provence, while American picholines are soaked in citric acid. They make great martini olives.
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Ponentine olive
These are mild Italian brine-cured black olives.
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raw green olive
raw green olive
These are for the rare cook who's intrepid enough to cure olives from scratch. Do not eat them raw.
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royal olive
royal olive
This is large brown Greek olive is brine-cured.
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Sevillano olive
Sevillano olive
This is a large, green, brine-cured olive.
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Sicilian olive
Sicilian olive
These are large, green, sour olives that are usually marinated with herbs. They sometimes pitted and stuffed with pimento, garlic, or jalapeño pepper.
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