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The Olive and its Significance as a Food

Archaeological finds indicate that olives were already in use during the Bronze Age. However, at that time they were still wild olive trees. The cultivation of the olive tree probably began around 4,000 BC in Syria and Crete. The importance of the olive and/or oil tree in ancient times was described by Homer in several works, including the Trojan epic poem Iliad. While axe handles were made from the wood of the tree, the oil was used for personal care. The Bible, as well as the Quran, contain passages that refer to the olive tree and/or its fruits. In the early 17th century, the olive reached America. Since then, olives have grown not only mainly in Spain, Italy, and Greece, but also in Argentina, Chile, and Peru.

There are currently over 1,000 varieties of olive trees in the Mediterranean region. This is due in no small part to the different climatic conditions. Accordingly, the range of olives to choose from is diverse: the main differences are in taste, size, and water content. The larger an olive is, the more water it contains. This fact means that no oil, or at least very little oil, can be obtained from large olives. The olive is one of the stone fruits that is practically inedible raw because it is much too bitter. It takes several soakings in water to remove most of the bitter substances and make olives edible. In this shop, you will find green and black olives with and without stones. You can also choose from various marinated and/or stuffed olives. Examples of simple green olives are Green Olives Pitted La Comtesse and Feinkost Dittmann Olives Green with Stone.

Green and Black Olives

When you look at our range of olives, you will first notice the differences between green and black as well as with or without stones. But what distinguishes green from black olives? In general, green olives contain more water and minerals. Their taste can be described as bitter and sometimes spicy. The flesh of green olives is firm. Black olives ripen significantly longer than green olives. Therefore, they taste milder and their flesh is softer than that of green olives. While black olives have about 351 calories per 100 grams, green olives have only about 131 calories per 100 grams. The ripening phase of olives begins with the yellow-green coloration, in the second phase they turn reddish-violet, and only completely ripe olives turn black. As long as the olives are yellow-green, they are perfect for making oil. Black, that is, ripe, olives have a significantly reduced polyphenol content. While it is also possible to press oil from ripe olives, it is by no means as durable as that obtained from less ripe fruits.

As it is time and cost-intensive to harvest olives at the optimal time, it is now common practice to simply dye green olives black. Usually, either iron-II-gluconate (E 579) or iron-II-lactate (E 585) is used for this purpose. Both substances cause oxidation, resulting in the desired dark coloration of the olives. We offer you a choice between real black olives and dyed olives: for example, you can choose between Feinkost Dittmann Kalamata Olives naturally ripened or Feinkost Dittmann Spanish Olives Black without Stones.

Cultivation and Harvesting of Olives

The Mediterranean climate offers olive growers the best conditions for the cultivation of olives for consumption and the production of oil. Olives that are not intended for oil production but for consumption are called table olives. Quite well-known Spanish varieties are Manzilla olives, Gordal, and Hojiblanca. In particular, the first two olive varieties are quite large, and the Gordal variety is also available in Germany as a Queen or Jumbo olive. Examples of products you can find in this online shop are Feinkost Dittmann Manzanilla Olives with Garlic Cream and Casa Deliziosa Queen Olives Filled with Fine Spiced Cream Cheese. Italian and Greek olives are also hardly less well-known than Spanish olives. Italy has about 440 different varieties of olives. The best-known varieties include the Taggiasca, which mainly occurs in Liguria, the Ogliorola and Coratina varieties that thrive in Apulia, as well as the Frantoio and Leccio olives from Sicily. Greek olive varieties include Kalamata and Konservolia, for example.

How are olives harvested? In this regard, traditional and modern harvesting methods must be differentiated. For traditional manual harvesting, it is advantageous if the olives are as ripe as possible - after all, they are much easier to detach than less ripe fruits. If you need to go faster, olives are beaten off the branches with a rake or stick. So that the fallen olives do not have to be collected individually, they are caught with a tightly meshed net. It is not uncommon for olive growers to saw off branches that bear many olives. After harvesting, it is necessary to saw out or prune the olive trees anyway. The modern harvesting method uses shaking machines: once the olives are ripe enough, the trees are shaken with such a machine. Again, nets are spread out to catch the falling olives. Shaking machines can only be used on as level ground as possible, but they allow for a quite gentle harvest. Like many other fruits, it is also important to ensure that the olive skin does not burst.

Delicious Recipes with Olives

Olive and feta cheese is a great combination. For example, you can put a piece of feta cheese (200-250 grams) in a bowl and crumble it a bit. Add chopped olives (either green and/or black) and a chopped onion. If you like, you can also add some pieces of tomato to this mixture. Not least in Italian recipes, you will come across olives time and again. A beautiful example is Veal Strips with Peppers and Olives: Chopped peppers and onions are fried; pitted black olives and spices are added and everything is stewed for about 20 minutes. After the previously marinated meat has been seared vigorously, the vegetables are stirred in. In any case, you do yourself a favor if you eat olives more often, as they contain unsaturated fatty acids and vitamins.