The olive tree has been depicted as a symbol of peace, happiness and wisdom throughout the world. Beyond its celebrated status, the olive tree is one of the heartiest, drought-resistant trees on the planet; and if properly pruned and cared for, the olive tree can live for a very long time up to several centuries now that's old!
Lets get to the fruit of the matter. Olives have been a major source of food and oil for thousands of years reaching far back before the invention of language.Native to Asia Minor, olive groves had spread from the rest of the Mediterranean Basin to the Middle East and to the shores of Africa where it thrived in the hot arid climate.In the past few hundred years olive groves have been cultivated in North and South America, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
Each of the olive producing countries takes their olive cultivation very seriously. The Greek people, for example, consume more olives per capita than all the other European nations, even though Spain is the number one producer of olives. For over 3500 years, the olive has played an essential role in Greek history, agriculture, and in their cooking. In the Greek city of Kalamata, grows the best known of all Greek olives the eponymous Kalamata. After the kalamata is cured in red wine brine, these deep purplish-black olives with their distinctive almond shape taste as gorgeous as they look. They have been one of the Greeks most valued commodities, and rightfully so!
The fruit of the olive tree can vary in appearance from small to large, ebony to pale-green, and plump to crinkly each with their own significance. The olive fruit, which is the part of the plant used for oil, is harvested during the fall season.
Olive oil, with its distinct flavor and taste, is recognized as one of the healthiest edible oils in the world, containing less saturated fats, and composed of linoleic (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) essential fatty acids. Not only do we get the benefits from the oil, we get to eat the delicious fruit as well.
After the olives are harvested, they must be fermented and cured before being considered edible.Brine curing is one of ways to cure olives which can take months to do. This process involves the submersion of olives in a concentrated salt solution which breaks down the sugars found in the olive resulting in a change of flavor and phytonutrient composition. Greek and Sicilian style olives in brine are examples of brine-cured olives.
For hundreds of years, the Moroccan people were known for their fantastic dry cured olives which were slowly cured in salt, then lightly coated with olive oil, resulting in a texture and an appearance resembling that of a prune, but with an intensified flavorful taste, due to the curing method.
Enjoying Moroccan style olives as a quick snack or with our meals is common in our household. Most of the time, you will find us eating them in salads and tagines. One of our favorites is the Napa Valley marinated olives made with fennel and rosemary this is a gastronomical wonder. Or sometimes, we simply enjoy eating green olives seasoned with harissa or maybe black olives seasoned with fleur de sel. We've created fennel green olive and rosemary green olive seasoning which we think are perfect ways to add flavor to your ordinary olives.
Here's a simple way to enjoy home-style seasoned olives:
1 cup of olives of your choice
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
Mix well and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve as a snack with a glass of wine