Tuesday, 29 April 2008


Olives are one of my favourite foods especially as a starter in a restaurant or on a hot summers day! Great Tapas food! You can do so much with them and get so many varieties! So I have researched these wondrous tree fruits and would like to share the information with you!

Where do they come from?

Olives are grown on trees and are usually harvested in September, however they are available all year round much to our benefit! There is a special process that an Olive has to undertake for us to reap their true benefits, they have a unique bitterness to them which vary depending on the type of Olive tree an Olive stems from… this could be the region they are grown, the colour, desired taste or texture.

This creates the difference between green and black Olives. Green Olives are picked early before they are rip whereas black Olives are left to ripen hence turning black in colour. The colour can also be affected by the liquid the Olive is stored in for example some are placed in Brine, oil, water or salt. Some green Olives are also exposed to air which in doing so the Oxidation ripens them to a black colour! I prefer the black Olives when I snack on these delicious fruits however the green ones are great in Martini’s!

Different varieties include Moroccan oil-cured, Kalamata, Nicoise, Picholine and Manzanilla. They vary in size, flavour, texture and you can get Olives pitted or un-pitted as they naturally come with a stone.

They are one of the oldest known foods and it is said they have originated from Crete several thousand years ago! Thank goodness they spread as they are one of my favourite foods!

Why are Olives so good for you?

Olives contain heaps of nutrients that benefit our health… they have a very good source of monounsaturated fat and a good source of vitamin E, iron and copper and also fibre.

A good source of Vitamin E…

As they are high in monounsaturated fats they are very high in vitamin E, it is important to have some in our cells as it helps the membranes around our cells DNA. Vitamin E directly neutralizes all the fat-rich areas of the body.

Protection from Heart Disease…

The nutrients in olives help to prevent heart disease.

Support Gastrointestinal Health…

A higher in take of vitamin E and the monounsaturated fats is associated with lower rates of colon cancer.

Beneficial Anti-Inflammatory Effects…

The anti-inflammatory actions of the monounsaturated fats, vitamin E and polyphenols in olives may also help reduce the severity of conditions such as asthma. They also help women who are going through the menopause as they help hot flushes!

How to pick the right Olive for you?

Most commonly in our country we buy Olives in jars or containers, you can make from Olives a tapenade which is a spread you can use also as a dip, or topping for certain fish dishes! Great with cod! See my version of tapenade!

To serve you could create an anti-pasti dish… these can be accompanied by vegetable crudités, hummus or artichokes or roasted peppers! Great for sharing parties and creating the ultimate tapas!

Good summer finger food.. or if you don’t like getting your hands dirty use cocktail sticks! You can also get some beautiful Olive sets with pickers which look very classy indeed!

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