Why We Love Olives
My friends and family can attest that olives are one of my all-time favorite foods. I heart olives in my morning omelet, chopped into my Israeli-Style Salad and when sipping on a cold brew. There’s no wrong time to munch on this salty, briny fruit.
Olives date back to biblical times where the olive branch was a symbol of peace. These gems were thought to have originated in the Mediterranean, tropical and central Asia and several parts of Africa. Olive trees were first seen in California in the late 1700s.
Olives grow on trees, have one pit in the center, and contain oil in their flesh. In order to extract their oil the olives must be pressed. The difference between a green and black olive is their degree of ripeness: black olives are the most ripe. Fresh olives picked right off the tree are inedible and must be prepared with brine, salt or cured in olive oil before being consumed.
Some of the most popular varieties include Manzanillo, Mission, Rubra, Sevillano and Gordal. Mission is most commonly used for cold-pressed olive oil from California and Gordal is a very popular table olive from Spain.
Today, over 90% of the world’s olive oil production comes from Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Turkey, Greece, Syria, Morocco and Portugal.
One ounce (about 14 medium) pickled green olives (canned or jarred) contains 41 calories, 4 grams of fat, 1 gram of fiber, and is cholesterol free. Olives also contain vitamins A and E and copper. Black canned olives have similar calories, fat and a touch more fiber (about 2 grams per ounce). Much of the fat found in olives (and olive oil) comes from heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Studies have found this fat to help fight inflammation. Olive oil also contains an antioxidant called polyphenol which can help alleviate the effects of sunburn, help lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease.
- Make a fresh batch of black olive tapenade to enjoy with baked chips or on a slice of whole grain baguette.
- Combine olives with capers, spinach and tomatoes to make a delicious sauce to serve spooned over fish.
- Spice up your olives with a combo of orange zest and fresh rosemary.
- Add green olives to lean ground turkey or beef for Ellie’s Better Burgers.
- Mix olives together with roasted red peppers for a delightful sauce fot roast beef.