The Pantry

The Peaceful Olive

Since the 17th century B.C., the olive tree has been thought to be sacred, and the olive branch is considered a symbol of peace.   

The olive is native to the Mediterranean area and grown as a small fruit and for its oil.  In the United States they are grown mostly in Arizona, California and New Mexico. 

There are many varieties of olives which vary in size and flavor.  As a fresh fruit they are always bitter but the final flavor depends on at what stage it was picked and its processing.  Under-ripe olives are always green, but ripe olives could be green or black. 
Some varieties: 

  • Dry cured (or oil cured or salt-cured); Greek or North African, meaty, slightly bitter, smoky flavor. 
  • Kalamatas (or calamatas); Greek olives, intense flavor. 
  • Manzanilla; Spanish, crisp, oily, rich, smoky flavor. 
  • Cracked Provencal; brine cured then cracked, marinated with herbes de Provence and olive oil, mild herb flavor. 
  • Nicoise; French, sharp, sour flavor. 
  • Picholine; French, brine cured, crunchy with a salty-sweet flavor. 
  • Lucques; French table olives, tender, oval shaped, mild and buttery. 
  • Sicilian; soft, somewhat tart. 
  • California “Sicilian”; usually cracked, sometimes stuffed with chile peppers with olive oil added. 
  • Bella di Cerignola; Italian, mild and sweet with thick flesh.


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