Don’t buy just any old olives, the ones from Spain are some of the best in the world
If there’s one thing that can put me right off a pizza restaurant, it’s a topping made with those pitted black olives.
You know the kind; perfectly smooth, identically shaped and tasting of very little but brine, they also tend to roll off the pizza and onto the floor which is very annoying.
They aren’t even Italian, but usually Greek.
In fact my favourite olives are Spanish – such a great variety and packed full of flavour. I wouldn’t put them on a pizza at all, just eat them out of the jar or in a special recipe, such as the ones from the wonderful Jose Pizzaro (see here for the olive recipes) .
If you want to know more about Spanish olives then the appropriately named Olives From Spain website is the place to go.
Some people assume black and green olives are different varieties, I know I did, but in fact black ones are just a great deal riper than green. Because the green ones are unripe, they would be bitter tasting so they are cured by oil-curing, water-curing, brining, dry-curing, or in a solution of lye.
The longer an olive is cured, the better the flavour and across the Mediterranean can be found all kinds of olive varieties.
There are around 850 million olive trees on earth, covering more than 10 million hectares of land. Spain is the first olive producing country in the world, followed with a big gap by other countries in the Mediterranean Basin.
Spain is also the top olive exporting country in the world – in Spain alone there are two hundred varieties of olives.
Personally I love the Manzanilla, the classic green cocktail olive from the Seville area often jarred stuffed with red pepper.
There are also delicious black Hojiblanca olives from Andalucia. The name means ‘white leaf’ because the leaves’ silvery colour makes them sparkle in the sunlight.
I especially I love the Gordal, which means”fat one,” and by golly they are very big indeed. Thick walled and very meaty, they make ideal tapas as they come pitted with a large cavity crying out for stuffing.
And of course the health properties of olives and olive oil are well known, so eat as many as you like – you can’t go wrong
If you’re looking to buy the real deal, high quality olives from the best producers, then online is a great place to go.
In particular to Basco where they sell the Corredor brand of olives with the option of pitted or unpitted and a whole load of choice varieties.
Check them out and get the olives in for summer.