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The Journey & History of Green Olives | Processing & History

Author Zizzur Staff. Published on July 16, 2011 - 3:07 am (1302 views — 427 words)

Before green olives reach the dinner table, it goes through a long procedure. This age old fruit has to be harvested at the right time for growers to get the best quality, if it is done too early or too late, growers suffer a big loss in production. But before the fruit can be eaten, it first has to undergo a process called curing to relieve it of its natural bitter taste. Eating green olives straight from the tree is not recommended, since it has a bitter taste that that can be quite overwhelming. It must go through a curing process to rid it of its unwanted bitter taste.

Green olives were first cured using the dry curing method which has been done for thousands of years. This is achieved by mixing 9 parts olives and 1 Part Sea salt in a container and left to ferment for 4 to 6 weeks. This procedure eliminates the olives natural bitter taste and replaces it with the salty taste we are accustomed to. Since salt has the tendency to dehydrate things it comes in contact with, this method gives the olive a wrinkled appearance. One example of a popular olive type that goes through this process is the Greek Kalamata; it is one of the most in demand olives today.

As more and more people started growing green olives, new ways of curing came about. Many growers use the brine curing method which involves a brine mixture where olives are kept submerged in for a couple months. Salt and water are the basic ingredients that make up brine. Depending on the grower's preference a variety of herbs and spices can be added to the brine for a more complex finish; however, there are some who use wine vinegar instead of water for a more full-bodied flavor. Because of this method's cost-effective advantage, many growers use this process. Aside from the fact that the ingredients are very cheap, it incurs minimal loss as caused by spoilage.

There are other curing methods that growers use today, these are: oil, water, air and lye curing. Among all the options, oil curing is considered as the most preferable because it gives the olives a distinct flavor; however, this is also the most expensive due to the use of olive oil. Lye curing on the other hand is also inexpensive but this type of method removes most of the nutrition found in olives.

No matter what process olives undergo, it is a well-loved fruit that will forever be a part of our culinary history.