Olives are hard-stoned fruit used for seasoning and as an appetizer. Raw olives are very bitter and must be treated and pickled before they are edible. An essential ingredient in Mediterranean cooking, and a delicious snack or accompaniment for drinks, olives are widely grown in Spain, Italy, France and Greece. Green olives are the unripe fruit, turning to brownish pink as they ripen. Black olives are picked fully ripe then fermented and oxidized to achieve a jet black finish.
Kalamata olives are purple, almond shaped fruits traditionally grown in the Kalamata region of Southern Greece. They have a distinctive flavour and are usually sold brined. Mixed olives can often be marinated in olive oil with garlic, herbs, chillies or citrus rind. Manzanilla olives are succulent green Spanish olives; many are stoned and stuffed with pimento, whole blanched almonds or rolled anchovies.
All year round.
Serve whole olives as part of an antipasti platter with cured meats, cheeses and roasted vegetables. Stone and slice olives are great pizza toppings, or add to bread doughs such as focaccia. Tapenade is a French sauce made from black olives, anchovies, capers and olive oil – it’s delicious on toast.
Loose olives should be kept covered with olive oil. Jars of olives will keep for up to a year, but once opened store them in the fridge and use within a month.