Olives – The Salty Mediterranean Snack

By this title you may assume that other popular Mediterranean foods are not salty, but they really are! Just think about it: capers, anchovies, fetta, the list goes on. But olives are just a great snack that you can just pop in your mouth, and savour the salty heaven they provide.

The largest producer of olives is Spain, followed by Italy, Greece and then Turkey. Of the some 800 million olive trees growing in the world at this moment, 93 percent are growing in the Mediterranean area.

Curing Olives

Unripe olives are green and gradually turn to black as they ripen. A highly bitter, naturally occurring chemical called oleuropin is found in raw and even cooked olives. So unlike any other fruit, the olive is inedible straight from the tree or after normal cooking.

Olives must have the oleuropin removed by a curing process. The olives are soaked in oil, brine or salt for several months before they can be eaten. The longer an olive is cured, the less bitter and more complex in flavour it becomes. Processing olives while they are unripe produces green olives, and when ripened produces black olives.

Olive Trivia:

  • From the beginning, the calming and healing properties of olive oil have been recognized. And so the olive branch has long been used as a symbol of peace
  • In the bible, Noah released a Dove to find dry land after the great flood. The dove brought back an olive branch
  • Moses exempted men from military service if they would work cultivating olives.
  • In the Middle East, the story is told of Adam suffering from pain and complaining to God. At that, Gabriel descended from heaven with an olive tree, presented it to Adam, and said, "plant it, then pick the fruit and press out its oil. It will cure your pain and all sickness." Middle Eastern civilizations believed it would cure every illness except death. And to this day, many drink half a cup of olive oil before breakfast to keep all systems well lubricated.Olives contain about 20% oil
  • Olive trees may live to be 1500 years old, the average life span is about 500 years
  • Victors in the Olympic games used to be crowned with olive leaves. The Greeks continued this tradition in the 2004 Summer Olympics
  • Residents of Crete have the highest consumption of olive oil per person in the world, and the lowest death rate from heart related disease.

Grades of Olive Oil

Extra Virgin - The highest grade of olive oil. This oil has to have less than 1% acidity and be free form any faults. The oil is usually used in salads or as a substitute for butter or margarine

Virgin – Acidity is greater than 1% but less than 1.5 %.

Pure – Also known as simply ‘Olive Oil’. It is a good standard oil for cooking and baking. Acid levels are greater than 1.5% but less than 3%.

Light/Extra Light – This means light in colour, not in calories. Oil is purely fat remember!

Lampante/Pomace Oil – Made from crushed seeds and skins of olives. Not really edible but used to make candles and soaps.
Olives – The Salty Mediterranean Snack Olives – The Salty Mediterranean Snack Reviewed by Admin on June 29, 2019 Rating: 5


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