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The olives

Olives on olives treeThe first traces of olive trees have been discovered in Asia Minor in the form of a wild shrub known as “oleaster.” Today, olive woods can be found virtually all over the world, but their location par excellence remains the Mediterranean basin.

A large portion of olives is used to make olive oil which is known for its numerous beneficial effects. But the olive has also been enjoyed as a fruit in its own right since Antiquity. The table olive, also known as eating olive, is the generic name given to olives intended for such consumption. There are hundreds of olive varieties which in general bear the name of their origin. The most well known varieties are Picholine, Manzanilla and Kalamata.

The harvesting period depends on the variety and maturity of the olive. The picking of table olives is not very mechanised and is still done manually to preserve the integrity of the fruit. It starts in September for green olives, and takes up to February for black olives.

OlivesThe distinction between green and black olives depends on their degree of ripeness. Green olives are picked before they are ripe, while black olives have ripened naturally on the tree. The natural colour of a ripe olive is light to dark brown or even purple. Completely black olives are green olives that have been artificially blackened.

The olive is an extremely bitter fruit that cannot be eaten without prior processing. The bitterness has to be removed first, and there are numerous methods for doing so. Depending on the type of processing, olives will be soaked in water, a brine (= water with a high concentration of salt), or in a soda solution for green olives. The oleuropein, which makes olives bitter, is removed entirely or partially during this step.

The olives are then washed, placed in vats and covered with brine for several months for the lactic fermentation process to follow its course.

At the end of this step, the olives will be desalted and then prepared according to different recipes.


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