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An olive glossary for quick party platters

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Olives are a common ingredient in many European and Mediterranean dishes. The type of olives used however, can vary depending on the type of dish served.  While there are a large number of olive varieties available, there are essentially just two main types – black and green.

Olives typically come in cans or jars of brine or oil.  Once opened, they are best stored in the refrigerator using sealed containers and must be fully submerged in the liquid they came in.  Storing them in brine is good for one to two weeks while oil offers a longer shelf life of up to two months.  With the new FlexFresh range of refrigerators, long term storage using bigger jars or containers is easy with its combination of adjustable shelves and storage bins.

Black Olives 

Kalamata

Kalamata
By r.g-s

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rgarciasuarez74/3421501365

These plump olives come from Greece and are harvested when fully ripened. By then, they are deep purple in color and are almond shaped. After brining, they have a rich and fruity flavor. This makes them a good all-purpose choice in recipes utilising black olives.

Niçoise

Niçoise
By adactio

http://www.flickr.com/photos/adactio/22156493

From France, these olives are smaller than their Kalamata cousins and harvested when fully ripe. Chewy and flavourful, these olives tend to be hard to pit due to their high pit-to-meat ratio. These olives are said to have a rich, nutty and mellow flavour, and are usually packed with herbs and their stems intact.

Gaeta

Gaeta
By Patrizia Miceli – Via delle rose

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lunadei/5644002677/

Also from Italy, these small olives are wrinkled in appearance. They have a mild nutty flavour, and are prepared by brining with dry salt then rubbed with oil. They are usually packed with rosemary and other herbs.

Lugano

Lugano
By -Marcus-

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/black-pitted-marinated-olives-photo-p181143

Yet another Italian olive, the Lugano olive is famous for its extremely salty flavour.  They are packed with olive leaves and herbs and are popular at olive tastings.

Green Olives

Manzanilla

Manzanilla
By goodiesfirst

http://www.flickr.com/photos/scaredykat/3469402373

A Spanish variety of green olive, these are usually available stuffed or with their seeds still in. After brining, they are lightly cured with lye, then packed with citric and lactic acid. This produces a salty and slightly spicy flavour.

Picholine

Picholine
By ralph and jenny

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ralphandjenny/6635670959

From France, the Picholine is brined with salt and then preserved in citric acid. It has a subtle, light and mild salty flavour.

Spanish

Spanish
By Jenn Durfey
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dottiemae/5187413779

These olives are fermented in an acid solution after brining for four to six months. This gives them a very strong and salty flavour.

Sicilian

Sicilian
By Neeta Lind

http://www.flickr.com/photos/neeta_lind/1197272857

Medium-sized olives which are famous for their crisp and salty flavour. After being brined with salt and preserved in lactic acid, they are usually pitted and stuffed.

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