How to enjoy Spanish olives

How to enjoy Spanish olives

With an estimated 300 million olive trees nationwide and a history with the fruit spanning some 6,000 years, Spain is the world’s leading producer of table olives. Delicious olives available from your local supermarket most likely grew under the warm Spanish sun – a hot, seemingly endless summer season perfect for ripening. An excellent source of vitamin E, fiber and iron, Spanish olives are thought to alleviate the symptoms of all manner of ills from arthritis to colon cancer. With so many types of Spanish olives on offer, their versatile yet distinct flavours offer a whole host of snack and meal options. From which variety to toppings and sauces – we’ve got the pick of the olive crop.

Which variety and colour?

The most common types of Spanish table olive are the Manzanilla, which translates from Spanish as ‘little apple’, Gordal – delicious green olives as big as quails eggs, Hojiblanca, Carrasqueña and Cacereña.

All olives actually start out green – the color and class of the olive corresponds to the ripeness of the fruit when picked:

· Green – olives picked when ripe
· Olives turning colour – olives picked before they are completely ripe, and can be dark red, pinkish or brown
· Black – olives that are picked when not totally ripe and cured following which they take on their characteristic black colour.

Serving styles and suggestions
The main serving styles for Spanish table olives are as follows:

· Whole – olives complete with the pit
· Pitted – olives which have been pitted
· Stuffed – pitted olives stuffed with one or more ingredients such as pimento, onion, tuna, anchovy, salmon, almond, etc
· Salads – olives which are pitted and cut in pieces or slices. Can have capers or other ingredients for stuffing
· Slices – pitted or stuffed olives which are cut in cross-section to form rings of similar thickness
· With capers – whole or pitted olives, with or without stuffing, generally of a small size, and accompanied by capers.
· Loose – olives which are not placed in order, but rather allowed to fill a container at random.
· Place-packed – olives which are fit snugly into the packaging or dish, following a symmetrical order or forming a geometric shape

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