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Why Creative Cooks Adore Italian Olives

Attention avid cooks! We see you. You’re always on the lookout for something to make your kitchen output better, tastier and more creative. That’s why we’ve put together the tips you need to amp things up with the help of these small, round beauties lovingly referred to as Italian olives

Of course, sometimes keeping things fresh and interesting can be a labor of love as well as a challenge, but we know you’re up for it. Italian olives come in many varietals and offer a wealth of flavor to step up your next savory main, delectable side or sophisticated starter. Such a simple addition, the Italian olive, can seamlessly kick the flavor up. So, let’s get schooled up on Italian olives and then bounce around recipes, cooking tips and more.

Italian Olives for the Win

The origins of Italian olives have been a staple for Italy and the entire Mediterranean for thousands of years. It’s only in the last few decades that Americans have begun to appreciate olives for more than a garnish in a martini. Olive trees have been grown in Italy and the Med for over 6,000 years. In fact, 90% of the world’s production of olives comes from this region. 

The Italian olive is a fruit similar to a cherry, peach or mango because it has an inner stone that contains a seed. All olives go through a ripening process where they turn from green to black. During this process, they render coloring that ranges from deep red, brown and dark purple. The color of the Italian olive is simply a reflection of its maturity.

Types of Italian Olives:

  • Oil-cured Moroccan Olives – The Black Moroccan is perfect for oil-curing because they are meaty and flavorful. Creative cooks may add them to a caramelized onion pizza, tossed in a Frisee salad or as part of a snacking platter with pears, cheese and almonds.
  • Black Pitted Jumbo Olives – The jumbo black olives with no pits are the perfect go-to to add some pizazz to salads, pasta sauces and sandwiches.
  • Calabrese Olives – Calabrese olives hail from the coastline of Calabria, Italy and are noted for their hearty flavor. Seasoned with hot peppers along with fennel and garlic, these Italian olives can add spice up any meal.
  • Cerignola Olives – The bright green Cerignola Olive is handpicked in southern Italy. Cerignola Olives are lightly salted with a smooth flavor that makes them perfect for martinis, snacking or pairing with cheese.
  • Kalamata Olives – Kalamata olives are the go-to ingredient in any Greek salad and well known for their nutty flavor and dark-purple color.
  • Sicilian Olives/Castelvetrano Olives – These olives come straight from the groves of Sicily. They are unpasteurized, mild in flavor and offer a sweet aftertaste, making them a perfect addition to a cheese plate or a Mediterranean salad.

While olives are a popular addition to main dishes, side dishes and snack platters, they are often shrouded in common questions. Let’s get back to basics and firm up our knowledge base about Italian olives by clearing up some frequently asked Italian olive conundrums, like:

  • Do olives go bad? Olives that have been refrigerated will generally stay at best quality for about about a week to 10 days. Signs of mold, foul smells or off-flavor will occur if your olives are no longer good.
  • Should olives be rinsed? Yes, the general consensus is that rinsing or even submerging your olives in water before using can bring out a more vibrant flavor.
  • How many varieties of olives are there? It is estimated that there are over 2,000 varieties of olives. Some of the varietals are solely grown for olive oil.
  • Are Italian olives edible directly from the olive tree? The answer is yes, but they’ll be bitter. The brining process takes away that bitterness to make olives delicious. Without this process, we wouldn’t enjoy olives as much as we do. 

No olive conversation could be complete without creative cooking tips to help you take your olive cooking game to the next level. Italian olives are perfectly position to pair with pasta sauce, charcuterie boards and fish – let’s explore some unique takes on tradition.

  • Brunch redefinedFritatta takes a delicious Mediterranean turn when you add diced Kalamata olives.
  • Perfect olive-sub – Capers are delicious, but olives can be subbed in for a unique change of pace. Think of adding black olives to your lemony sauce for your fish or diced black olives to your tuna fish salad or even a pairing with smoked salmon to put a new twist on dishes with a simple change.
  • Citrus relish for red meat – Green olives pair perfectly with pears or mangoes to create a sweet, salty and savory relished that can take a roast lamb or roast beef dish to new flavor heights.
  • Potato salad with pizazz ­– Potato salad is a summertime favorite that can be amped up with the addition of either green or black Italian olives that can bring varying degrees of spice depending on your taste.

Flora Fine Foods is your source for authentic Italian olives and so much more. At Flora Fine Foods, we are dedicated to providing quality Italian food products that bring the flavors of the old world recipes to cooks who seek authenticity.

Shop Italian Olives Before Your Next Meal!

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