Table olives have been part of the Mediterranean diet for thousands of years. Long before Martinis or tapenade were used as something cool at parties, this small and delicious fruit was already famous among a lot of ancient cultures such as Romans, Greeks or the Egyptians.
However, until recently, in countries outside the Mediterranean basin, it was difficult to find much of these. And we say this because in table olives’ world, there are many types, which today we can find in the nearest supermarket in our neighborhood quite easily.
The classification of the varieties of table olives depends on 3 variables:
- Their presentation
- Their place of origin
- Type of olive
In the case of this guide, all the olives that we will talk about are of Spanish origin, so we will explain varieties according to their presentation and type, in order to make you an expert in the olive world and the boast at your next party with friends.
And, why do we focus on Spanish olives? Because Spain is a leader in production and export of table olives, being its product of great quality and tradition.
TYPES OF OLIVE
It is important to know that there are two types of olives: olives for oil and table olives. The oil ones are smaller, lozenge-shaped and less fleshy. On the other hand, the table ones contain more meat, a small pit, rounded form and its meat detaches of the bone easily.
Greens: They are olives harvested during the ripening cycle, and when they have reached a normal size.
Black: They are olives collected in full maturity or shortly before it, and after being treated for later consumption they acquire their characteristic black colour.
Of changing colour: They are olives collected before their full maturity and with different shades in their coloration, such as pinkish, purple or dark brown.
VARIETY OF TABLE OLIVES
The olives of the variety Manzanilla are fruits of medium size, almost round and with relatively small pit. It is undoubtedly the most widely spread olive tree variety in the world and one of the best known.
Known internationally with the name of “Sevillana”, it is an olive very appreciated for its size, since it can reach an average weight of 0,44oz. Hence its Spanish name, Gordal, “the fat one”. They are mainly grown in low Andalusia.
Its cultivation covers great part of the provinces of Cordova, Malaga, Seville and Granada. The fruit has a coloration from violet to black, and it’s a very appreciated variety in elaborations of black olives seasoned and in brine, is considered very suitable for black dressing type “Californian”.
In addition, we can find them with different presentations:
Olives with pits: They are the ones that retain their original shape and the pit has not been removed.
Unpitted: These are the olives which pit has been removed and retain their original shape.
Stuffed: Unpitted olives that are filled with one or more ingredients such as pepper, onion, tuna, anchovy, salmon, almond, etc.
Salads: Olives cut into segments or sliced and unpitted. They may be accompanied by capers and other stuff.
Slices: Unpitted or stuffed olives cut into rings of a similar thickness.
Caper: Whole or unpitted with or without stuffing, usually small in size and accompanied by capers.
Rolls: Olives that are not placed in order.
Placed: Olives that fit in the containers, following a symmetrical order or adopting geometric forms.