Special Feature


Types of Olives

Shrimp 'N Olive Kebabs Veracruz
Olive-Parmesan Cocktail Crescents


Curing Makes the difference in Table Olives

Olives as they come from the tree are too bitter to eat without some kind of curing. There are many different methods used around the world. Most olives become black ripe olives. A few become specialty olives.

  • Black Ripe Olives: The olives are processed in a lye curing solution which leaches the bitterness out. California ripe olives have a firm texture and smooth, mellow taste. Once curing is complete a series of cold water rinses removes every trace of curing solution. During the curing process, which takes several days, a flow of air bubbling through the olives produces the natural rich dark color. A trace of organic iron salt (ferrous gluconate) is added to act as a color fixer so the olives will have less tendency to fade after the cans are stored.

Canning is the final step. Ripe olives are canned in a mild salt brine and, because they are a low acid product, are heat sterilized under strict California State health rules. All canned ripe olives packaged in California are inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture ensuring consistent quality, color, flavor and texture. Ripe olives come whole, pitted, sliced, chopped, or wedged. They are readily available year round in the grocery store.

  • Green Ripe Olives: The process for green ripe olives is the same as black ripe, except that green ripe are not exposed to air (oxidized) during processing. They retain their green color. The small quantity packed are available whole or pitted.
  • Spanish Style Green Olives: They are fermented for 4-6 months in an acid solution and packed in an 8% salt brine to give them a distinctive salty flavor. They are not pressure cooked, but keep for a long time when cold packed in jars with their acidified brine. This style of olive is imported primarily from Spain and are readily available in the grocery store.

Some of the many specialty style olives are:

  • Sicilian Style Olives: A medium green color, they are cured in a salt brine and preserved with lactic acid. Made from the larger Sevillano variety, they are crisp and salty.
  • Greek Style Olives: This style is usually made from olives which have been allowed to ripen longer on the tree. They are dry-salt cured and rubbed with olive oil. They are strong tasting, black and wrinkled. Some Greek-style are salt-brine cured and packed with vinegar.
  • Kalamatta (or Calamata): Black-purple olive, almond shaped coming from Greece. To process, the olive is slit then brine-cured and packed with vinegar.
  • Gaeta: From Italy, this olive is dry-salt cured, then rubbed with olive oil. It is black and wrinkled, but surprisingly mild. Some styles with this name are brine-cured. They are often packed with rosemary and other herbs.
  • Nicoise: This brown to brown-green-black olive comes from France. It is a small, tasty olive with a large pit.

Within each country methods, colors, flavor and texture vary greatly among specialty olives. In the U.S. look for these imported olives in specialty food stores, delicatessans and some grocery stores.


Shrimp 'N Olive Kebabs Veracruz

Shrimp 'N Olive Kebabs Veracruz
  • 1 cup whole pitted ripe olives (drained)
  • 1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup canned sliced jalapeño pepper (drained)
  • 1 pound peeled shrimp (large)
  • 2 cups picante sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder

Press 1 teaspoon of grated cheese into each olive. Press one jalapeño slice over cheese. Place one olive in center curve of each shrimp. Insert three shrimp onto bamboo skewers. Place in 12 x 8-inch glass baking dish. Combine remaining ingredients. Pour over kebabs. Cover. Chill for one hour. Remove kebabs from marinade. Grill or broil until shrimp are firm (turning once), about 7 to 10 minutes. Baste often with marinade. Makes 6 servings.


Olive-Parmesan Cocktail Crescents

  • 1 cup chopped ripe olives
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon fresh basil (1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
  • 12 commercial crescent roll dough triangles

Reserve ripe olives. Split garlic into cloves. Wrap in foil. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Cool. Remove garlic peels and crush with a fork. Add ripe olives, cheese and herbs. Mix well. Unroll dough triangles and spread with olive mixture. Roll tightly. Bake according to package directions.


Provided by California Olive Industry


About Olives and Olive Oils

Articles About Olives (with Recipes)

Olive Oil Recipes


This page modified February 2007

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