Dip Bread Appetizers

Dip Bread Appetizers

The Taste of Olives

While the taste of olives may take some getting used to, once you have acquired a taste for olives, it quickly becomes something that you always have close at hand in the kitchen.

Olives have a long history and have been consumed by humans for more than 5000 years, starting in Crete. Since then, people in Egypt, Greece, the Mediterranean and Palestine have quickly become involved in the cultivation of olives.

There are many references to olives in ancient history, including mentions in the Bible, depictions in Egyptian art and appearances in Greek mythology. For ages olives have been a source of food, fuel, and medicine for countless civilizations, and even the olive tree has found use in the form of lumber material.

The olive also symbolizes wisdom and peace; a dove with an olive branch in its beak is a universal symbol of peace. Since 3000 BC, people have produced and consumed olive oil. Freshly picked olives cannot be eaten without first being processed, as their skin contains a chemical known as oleuropein, which gives it a bitter  taste.

There are various methods of processing olives, and these methods differ according to the type of olive, region and the desired final taste, texture and color. Olives are harvested in the fall, and some are picked while still unripe and green in color, while others are picked only when fully ripe and have turned black in color.

Not all black olives are black when they were harvested, however, and certain methods of processing olives involve exposing green, unripe olives to the air, which darkens their skin color through oxidation. The final color of olive oil is not only determined by the color of the olives used to produce it, but is also determined by the methods used to process it, which may include fermentation or curing the olives in oil, brine, salt, or water.

Through processing, olives may become purple, black, brown, red, or yellow in color and the texture of their skin may also change, becoming either shriveled and wrinkled or smooth and shiny. Olive oil is produced and has been used for many centuries for health and cooking. Present day cooking has leaned more towards healthy food and olive oil is one of the main ingredients.

Kalamata, Nyon, Cerignola, Nicoise, Sevillano, Picholine, and Manzanilla are some of the many types of olive that are available. Besides variations in size, color and texture, olive flavors also differ widely, ranging from sour to smoky, bitter to acidic.

Olives can often be found in the pitted form as well. Spain, Greece, Turkey, Italy, and Morocco number among the main producers of olives today. Olives, which contain vitamin E, flavonoids, poluphenols, and monounsaturated fats, are generally considered to be a healthy form of food, and also possess anti-inflammatory properties. They also provide protection against heart related diseases and are good for the health of the gastrointestinal tract.

 

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