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.
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.
- 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.