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Archive for the Category 'Olives'

Harvesting Olives From Olive Trees

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Olive trees use the nutrients preserved from the past year to yield flowers and fruit in the current year. Once the flower blooms during the winter, it undergoes a slow development into a ripe fruit by spring time. Black olives go from pink to purple and then to black, and they are commonly harvested from November to March. Green olives are commonly harvested starting in October. The volume of oil present within the olive fruit increases the more you let the fruit ripen. Oil that is pressed from ripe ones tends to be yellow or golden in color whereas oil pressed from lesser ripened fruit tends to be greener in color with a peppery kick.

The methods of harvesting olives will vary, depending on the location in which they are grown.  Some countries consider the fruit ripe when it naturally falls to the ground. Other countries pick a select time to take the fruit off the tree by picking them off, shaking them off, or beating them off.  No matter which method is used, the cultures growing the olives integrate ancient practices into doing the work of making olives happen. Despite the extended time and effort it takes to harvest olive oil, many people enjoy the unity the process brings to the society when everyone tends to participate. Even in bad weather, most cultures see harvesting olives as an honored tradition—a way to connect with their forefathers.

Of course, there is a high diversity of olive fruits and trees since this plant has been highly popular since biblical times. Spain produces over twenty different types of olive fruits and is known for the Greek Kalamata and Manzanilla varieties.  The sweet Kalamata olives are primarily used in vinaigrettes and are brined as soon as they are ready to be used. If they are not in a vinaigrette solution, then they are usually pickled. Keep in mind that when eating Kalamata olives, the seed will be present.

The manzanilla olive is commonly referred to as the Spanish olive, but it can be grown and harvested in Australia as well as California.  The term “manzanilla” literally means “little apple” in Spanish, but the taste is more of an almond flavor than anything else. The fruit is cured with brine and is sometimes stuffed with garlic or pimento.  Italy grows a popular olive tree that produces an early fruit with high oil content called Ascolona. The Ascolona olive, which is cured in sea salt and Peruvian water,  is great for being stuffed and fried, and it has a nice taste with no bitterness.

The Barouni olive oil, native to Tunisia, is considered the largest olive oil in existence. The fruit looks like a greenish-black plum. This olive is ideal for curing at home, but it is not pressed for its oil. Today, the Barouni olive can be grown and harvested in the United States.

The amount of olives a tree produces will largely depend on its age and origin.  Trees no more than 20 years old, known as immature olive trees, will produce significantly lesser fruit than trees between the ages of 30-100 years. Ancient trees, trees at least 150 years old tend to produce limited fruit.

Olives In Your Recipes

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Use the flavor of olives in healthy recipes, even with a taste of olive oil.

Your local supermarket or delicatessen shop should carry a variety of olives, and you can find them packed in tinfoil bags or glass jars, or even sold loose from containers full of olives.

Olives can be stored for up to several weeks if kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and will keep even longer if stored in brine.

Olives can vary greatly in flavor, and can be bitter, sour, smoky, salty, or even ‘herby’, when Mediterranean herbs are included in their packing. You should try each variety in order to find the one which you prefer most, as different tastes will appeal to different people.

Toss, spread and chop. Here are some of the ways to prepare olives:

You can use olives to make olive tapenade, a great tasting spread that is easy to make and extremely versatile. You can use it as a sandwich spread, as a dip for bread, or on top of fish or poultry dishes. To make this spread, place olives that have been pitted in a food processor, then include garlic, olive oil, and seasonings of your choice. Blend until a paste is obtained. This spread can be stored in the refrigerator for later use.

Pasta tossed with garlic, tomatoes, chopped and pitted olives, and olive oil then topped with your favorite fresh herbs makes a great tasting dish.

Add more taste to a tuna or chicken salad by adding chopped olives to it.

When serving any Mediterranean-style meal, place a small plate of olives on the table together with some chopped raw vegetables and bread.

Don’t hesitate to try a bread dipping bruschetta or crostini that calls for kalamata olives. It is a welcome addition to any bread dipping recipe.

 

 

The Taste of Olives

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

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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