black olives

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Also Known As
Olive nere, Olive noires

One of the most commonly used ingredients in Mediterranean cuisine , black olives are olives which are ripened fully before curing. They have a different flavour from green olives since green olives are picked before they are ripe. Thus, you will find that black olives contain more oil content than green olives.

Coming in various sizes, they can weigh from anything between 3 gms to 16 gms per olive Black olives can be cured in various ways and are found in various varieties.. They are as follows:

· Kalamata black olives: Traditionally brined olives from Greece, they are harvested when fully ripe. They have a rich, fruity flavour and a deep purple colour. They can be pitted/ unpitted as required.
· Nicoise and Nyon black olives: Originating in France, these black olives are smaller in size, have a delicate flavour and are packed with stems intact. Herbs are always combined with these olives before packaging.
· Gaeta black olives: Originating in Italy, these wrinkled dry salt cured olives are rubbed in oil and then packed with herbs like rosemary etc. They have a mild flavour compared to other olives.
· Lugano black olives: These Italian olives are popular at tasting sessions. They are more salty as compared to other black olives and are sometimes packed with olive leaves.
· Liguria black olives: These Italian salt brine cured black olives are sometimes packed with stems intact. They have a vibrant flavour.
· Ponentine black olives: These Italian salt brine cured black olives are packed in vinegar and are mild in flavour.

How to select

Good food stores keep an assortment of black olives which can be tasted and then purchased. Thus, ensure that you taste and then purchase as per preference. Packaged olives will usually be soaked in brine or oil. Ensure that you check the brand, manufacturing and expiry date before purchasing.

Culinary Uses

· Black Olives are a versatile ingredient which plays an important role in Mediterranean cuisine. However, it is now slowly and steadily widely accepted all over the world.
· Black Olives go as a classic accompaniment to cheese boards where an assortment of cheese is served along with olives, pickled onions, dry fruits etc.
· Sliced or halved black olives are a common favourite as toppings on pizzas.
· Pastas get an extra zing when this ingredient is added. Since it requires no cooking, you may add it sliced, whole or chopped in the sauce just before tossing the cooked pasta.
· Black olives are usually sliced and added as one of the toppings in subways, sandwiches, toasts etc.
· Use finely chopped olives or roundels of black olives as a garnish on canapes, main course, etc.
· Black olives are commonly used to prepare Tapenade. Place black olives with garlic, olive oil and seasonings of your choice and blend in a mixer to a smooth paste. Use this tapenade spread as a dip, sandwich spread or topping.

How to store

Olives which are packaged in brine or oil can be kept at room temperature in a cool and dry place. Unopened olives may be stored for as long as 12 months. However, once opened, it needs to be refrigerated. Transfer the olives in the opened package along with the brine in a glass bowl/ non metal container, cover with cling film and then store under refrigerated conditions.

Health Benefits

· Black olives are a good source of mono unsaturated fats and also one of the best natural sources of Vitamin E.
· They are good anti bacterial and anti fungal antioxidants.
· They help stimulate the immune system.
· They help in maintaining healthy skin. A regular intake of olives helps erase wrinkles and makes the skin smooth.

Chopped black olives
In order to chop black olives, place them on a chopping board and cut each olive into halves. Now make vertical slits on each halve, arrange the strips together and make horizontal slits to get chopped black olives. The slits can be made finely or thickly to get finely chopped/ roughly chopped black olives as per requirements. Chopped black olives are usually used in flavouring dips, sauces or used to make fillings for savoury tarts, savoury muffins etc.
Sliced black olives
In order to slice black olives, place them on a chopping board and cut each olive into halves. Now make vertical slits on each halve to get sliced black olives. Make the slits as per requirements to get finely sliced or roughly sliced black olives. Sliced black olives are used mainly as toppings on sandwiches and pizzas or used to flavour pastas etc.
Stuffed black olives
Black olives are usually stuffed with pimentos, peppers, garlic, dry fruits like almonds etc. One can also stuff black olives with cheese, meat etc and then use in recipes. Use them whole, cut into halves, chopped or sliced in recipes as per requirements.

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