Olives are the fruit of the olive tree from which we extract the wonderful olive oil, dear to the Mediterranean diet. Olives, 'stone fruit' in Latin, are oval shaped with one single stone inside. Olives have different sizes, depending on the variety from which they come, but usually tend to range between 1.5 and 3 cm. The largest variety of olives is the 'Queen of Seville', and the smallest is the Arbequina. The olives are green at first, but as they mature, they become black.
Ripe olives, when they are at their optimum maturity, are harvested to later extract from them olive oil.
The main function of the olive is to obtain olive oil , but they can also be consumed directly, receiving the name "table olives", both green and black olives are used for this purpose. The green olives are this color, which they keep even when dressed. Ripe olives are dark bluish colour when fresh and a blackish colour once prepared.
In each region, table olives are prepared in different ways, as they can be seasoned with aromatic herbs, hot water, soda, salted or crushed. The result is a wide variety of types of olives.
Table olives can be classified into four types:
- Green: these are the olives harvested during the ripening period, when they reached their normal size. This type of table olives is strong, healthy and resistant to gentle pressure between fingers. They have no spots other than those of their natural pigmentation. The color of the fruit may vary from green to yellow.
- Variable colour: olives can be pink, rose wine or brown, collected before it has reached full maturity.
- Black: obtained from ripe olives, which may come out at the time of collection depending on the production area and they can be reddish black, violet black, deep violet, greenish black or dark brown.
- Blackened by oxidation: olives that are not fully mature but have been darkened by oxidation. they lose their bitterness by treatment with alkaline solution and should be packed in brine and preserved by heat sterilization.
Table olives are ideal to consume at any time of day, they are a very healthy food.
Table olives are calibrated according to the number of olives with a stone to a kilo. There is a direct relationship between the weight of the olive, of which the stone represents about 30%, and the transverse diameter of the olive.