Learn About Olives

Author: Chef Sydney

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What is an Olive?

Olives are small oblong fruits from the olive tree usually found in the Mediterranean countries.  While there are different varieties, two of the most common are green and black olives, which are the same kind of olive at different points of ripeness when picked.  Olives usually come jarred after being brined and preserved in a liquid.  Olives typically have a light, woody, somewhat nutty smell to them.

What Does an Olive Taste Like?

The taste of olives depends on the ripeness of the olive and the preservation liquid flavors.  Because olives are brined before they are preserved, olives will usually have a salty flavor.  Green olives typically have a saltier, bitter taste because they are picked before they are ripe.  Black olives are usually not as bitter or salty as green olives and may take on the flavors of what is in the preservation liquid.

A bowl of green olives and a bowl of black olives in olive oil.

How Do You Eat Olives?

Olives are not eaten raw, but they are often enjoyed after they have been brined and stored in a jar with a preservation liquid.  Jarred olives are enjoyed as they are, out of the jar, but also as pizza toppings, chopped in salads, and sprinkled on subs and sandwiches.  A popular olive dish is olive tapenade, often served with bread.  One of the most popular forms of olives is olive oil.

Where Can You Buy Olives?

Look for jarred olives in the pickle section of the grocery store.  Canned olives are located in the canned food aisle of the grocery store.

How Do You Store Olives?

Store unopened jars of olives in a cool, dry place.  Once opened, jarred olives should be sealed, still in their liquid, and placed in the refrigerator for up to a year.  Canned olives should be stored in a cool, dry place for up to a year.  Once opened, transfer olives and their liquid to a sealed container and place in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

Fun Facts About Olives

The oldest living olive tree is in Crete and is between 2,000 to 3,000 years old.  It still grows olives!

Did You Know?

Olive trees usually live between 300-600 years, but they can live to be over 2,000 years old.

Recipes Using Olives

Pepperoni Pizza with Olives

Jazz up a homemade pepperoni pizza with black olives. Roll out pizza dough with a rolling pin and place on a pizza pan. Spread homemade or store-bought pizza sauce over the dough, leaving 1 inch of space around the outside for the crust. Coat the pizza with mozzarella cheese. Place pepperoni slices and sliced black olives over the top and bake until the crust is cooked.

Olive Tapenade

Enjoy olives as a spread. Place black olives, olive oil, lemon juice, capers, and garlic in a food processor and blend until food is mostly smooth. Serve with crusty bread or pita chips.

Stuffed Olives

Use cheese to create new appetizer. Drain green olives in a colander and set aside. Mix softened cream cheese, lemon zest, chopped basil, and diced jalapeños together. Place cream cheese mixture in a piping bag and fill one end of the olive.

Simple Bread Dip

Create a simple dipping sauce for your bread. Combine olive oil, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Serve with crusty breads like sliced sourdough.

Marinated Olives and Feta

Enjoy marinated olives and feta as a snack. Combine olives, cubed feta cheese, olive oil, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Allow the mixture to sit for an hour before serving.


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