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Also Known As
Olive nere, Olive noires
Black olives are synonymous with Mediterranean style cooking. Unlike green olives, which are picked before they ripen, black olives are ripened artificially. They are in fact, ripened before curing, thus ensuring that the content of oil is higher than in green olives. The different types of olives popularly available commercially are:
Kalamata black olives
These traditionally brined olives from Greece are harvested when fully ripe. They have a rich, fruity flavour and a deep purple colour. Both the pitted and non-pitted varieties are available commercially.
Nicoise and Nyon black olives
Originating in France, these black olives are smaller in size, have a delicate flavour and are packed with their stems intact. Herbs are always combined with these olives before being bottled or packed.
Gaeta black olives
Originating in Italy, these wrinkled dry salt cured olives are rubbed in oil and then packed with herbs like rosemary etc. They have a mild flavour compared to other olives.
Lugano black olives
These Italian olives are popular at tasting sessions. They are more salty as compared to other black olives and are sometimes packed with olive leaves for additional flavour.
Liguria black olives
These Italian salt brine cured black olives are sometimes packed with their stems intact. They have a vibrant flavour.
Ponentine black olives
These Italian salt brine cured black olives are packed in vinegar and are mild in flavour.
Chopped black olives
In order to chop black olives, place them on a chopping board and cut each olive into halves. Now make vertical slits on each halve, arrange the strips together and make horizontal slits to get chopped black olives. The slits can be made finely or thickly as per the recipe requirements. Chopped black olives are usually used in flavouring dips, sauces or used to make fillings for savoury tarts, savoury muffins, etc.
Sliced black olives
In order to slice black olives, place them on a chopping board and cut each olive into halves. Now make vertical slits on each halve to get sliced black olives.. Sliced black olives are used mainly as toppings on sandwiches and pizzas or used to flavour pastas etc.
How to select
Stuffed black olives
Black olives are usually stuffed with pimentos, peppers, garlic, dry fruits like almonds etc. One can also stuff black olives with cheese, meat etc and then use in recipes. Use them whole, cut into halves, chopped or sliced in recipes as per your requirements.
• Good food stores keep an assortment of black olives which can be sampled before purchasing.
• Packaged olives will usually be soaked in brine or oil.
• Ensure that you check the brand, manufacturing and expiry date before purchasing. Culinary Uses
· Black Olives are a versatile ingredient which plays an important role in Mediterranean cuisine. However, it is now slowly and steadily widely accepted all over the world.
· Black Olives go as a classic accompaniment to cheese boards where an assortment of cheese is served along with olives, pickled onions, dry fruits etc.
· Sliced or halved black olives are a common favourite as toppings on pizzas.
· Pastas get an extra zing when this ingredient is added. Since it requires no cooking, you may add it sliced, whole or chopped in the sauce just before tossing the cooked pasta.
· Black olives are usually sliced and added as one of the toppings in subways, sandwiches, toasts etc.
· Use finely chopped olives or roundels of black olives as a garnish on canapes, main course, etc.
· Black olives are commonly used to prepare Tapenade. Place black olives with garlic, olive oil and seasonings of your choice and blend in a mixer to a smooth paste. Use this tapenade spread as a dip, sandwich spread or topping.How to store
• Olives which are packaged in brine or oil can be kept at room temperature in a cool and dry place.
• Unopened olives may be stored for as long as 12 months.
• Transfer the olives from the opened package along with the brine into a glass or plastic bowl. Please do not place in a metal container for the brine might react negatively with the metal causing poising.
• Cover with cling film and then store under refrigerated conditions.Health Benefits
• Black olives are a good source of mono unsaturated fats and also a natural source of Vitamin E.
• These olives posses anti-bacterial and anti-fungal antioxidants.
• They help stimulate the immune system.
• Most Mediterraneans owe their smooth complexion to the consumption of olives, which figure heavily in their diet. Olives aid in maintaining healthy, supple skin due to healthy oils found in it.