Olives are a delicious bite with a lot of depth of flavor, but do you know what you are looking for when buying olives? With so many types, colors, and brines available on the market, take time to learn what kind of olives are most palatable to you. 

The color.

Olives are found in colors ranging from black to purple, brown to green. The color of an olive is simply an indication of how ripe it was when it was picked from the olive tree. Green olives are the youngest and least ripe, and black olives are the ripest olives that you will find. Some in-between stages of ripeness manifest in brown, red, and purple hued fruits, with their own distinct flavor.

The texture.

Olives should never be soft or mushy; a perfect olive is firm. Storing them dry can compromise their texture, and you should always add a liquid (a cup of water with a teaspoon of salt) to keep them fresh. Also, leave them uncovered to preserve the firm texture and lengthen their life.

The brine.

What brings an olive to life after it has been picked is the brine. This is the curing liquid or process that is added to give the olive its distinct flavor. Brining transforms the sugars in the fruit into acid, and there are several different methods of brining olives:

  • Brine-curing involves fermenting the olives in salt water for up to a year.
  • Water-curing relates to soaking the olives in water, rinsing them, and repeating this process over (and over) again.
  • Dry-cured olives are packed in salt to preserve the fruits and to leach out any bitterness. These olives are typically soaked in olive oil after to package or serve.
  • Sun-curing involves allowing the olives to ferment and cure while they are still on the tree. Some growers may place picked-olives in the sun to cure.

The uses.

Olives are a delicious snack and savory ingredient in many types of cooking, particularly in Mediterranean cuisine. These are the ideal salty nosh for cocktails, parties, and hors oeuvres. Consider also a tasty tapenade which embodies the deep flavor of the fruit in a dippable form. Olives are versatile, and a couple quality jars belong in every pantry.

Olives are a delicacy that can bring new life to a recipe or provide the perfect salty-bite with a cocktail. Use these tips to find and serve the very-best olives and to hone-in on your palate's favorites. Visit orchards, specialty stores, and online vendors to find delicious and unique olives to try! If you're really dedicated to olives, you could even look at an olive farm for sale to take your interest even further.