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Delicious olives from Italy

Here you can order delicious Italian olives of excellent quality of the Taggiasca, Nocellara and Bella di Cerignola varieties. Whether green or black: our Italian olives are characterized by their tender pulp and the full-fruity taste .

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Our olives come from world-famous Italian olive oil producers such as Quattrociocchi, Anfosso and Sommariva. Some of the olives offered here are pickled in brine, others in olive oil. Do you prefer hot or mildly flavored olives pickled with herbs? - Then try our olives with fennel seeds, chilli, thyme, bay leaves or rosemary.

How do you use olives in the kitchen?

Pickled olives are versatile in the kitchen:

On the one hand "raw", i.e. not heated. Enjoy our olives:

  • Just like that as a starter. Green olives and unflavored black olives with stones are particularly suitable for this, of course.
  • As a component of salads, like something in the famous "olive salad".

Italian olives as a starter with bread

On the other hand, warm as a topping on pizza and bruschetta or as a spicy addition to braised and roasted dishes for everyone. This type of use has a long tradition in the various cuisines around the Mediterranean, including in Italy.

Bruschetta Italian appetizer

In some Italian recipes, olives are even an indispensable component and therefore appear in the name of the dish: for example, with "Agnello alle Olive Nere" (the roast lamb with black olives), a festive dish that in the Abruzzo is traditionally served especially at Easter.

When preparing the “Agnello alle Olive Nere” and other meat and fish dishes, make sure to add the olives at the end and let simmer for a few minutes. This way they keep their typical fruity-spicy taste and don't get bitter.

The olive tree: cultivation and varieties

Olive tree Tuscany Italy

Olives are the fruits of the real olive tree (Olea europaea), a millennia old cultivated plant that is widespread around the Mediterranean, but also in the Middle East and the Black Sea.

Their ancestor is the wild olive tree, which has been native to the same area for at least 54,000 years and was not, as long assumed, only introduced there by humans. This is shown by fossil olive leaves that researchers discovered in ash deposits on the Thera volcano on the Greek island of Santorini. While the cultivated plant reaches a height of between 10 and 20m, the wild forms usually remain lower and also occur in shrub form.

The cultivation of olives can be traced back to the 4th millennium B.C. track back. Unlike those on viticulture (which has been practiced for almost as long), research on olive cultivation started very late and is still in its infancy.

In fact, until a few decades ago, relevant knowledge about olive cultivation and varieties was largely limited to the olive growers themselves, who passed it on from generation to generation. These traditionally multiply their stock by cuttings: for this purpose, shoots are usually used, most of which arise in large numbers from the "ceppaia", the bulging trunk of older olive trees. These seedlings are planted directly in the ground, where they quickly form roots, or grafted onto wild olive trees. Over the centuries, this type of propagation or refinement resulted in numerous locally limited genetic variations of the real olive tree. They form the basis for today's olive varieties, the number of which is around 1000 in the Mediterranean region alone.

Italian olive varieties (cultivar)

The vast majority of olive varieties are also only grown in a narrowly defined geographical area - a region, a province or even just in a district or place. In Italy, where the term “cultivar” is often used, there are around 280 varieties; only ten reach nationwide distribution: above all Frantoio, Leccino, Maurino and Moraiolo are to be mentioned. This and other cultivars owe the fact that they are grown all over Italy to the commercial olive tree nurseries that first appeared in the 1970s. Young plants are grown there and sold to olive growers, thus comparable to the vineyards in viticulture.

External characteristics of the individual varieties

The trees of the individual olive varieties initially differ in their height and the shape of their crown (narrow and growing upwards, more broadly or with branches bent downwards). Further characteristics are the vigor, the time of shoot, flowering, fruit set and ripeness as well as the resistance of the plant against diseases and pests. These and other factors such as the type of pollination (self-pollinating or cross-pollinating) and the yield, which fluctuates every two years for many varieties, have a decisive influence on the distribution of a variety. Whether this is used as a table olive or for the production of olive oil (or both) is decided by the fruit itself.

Table olive or press olive?

But what distinguishes a Table olive, and what requirements must meet to be used to generate Extra virgin olive oil?

The selection criteria are essentially:

  • The weight of the individual fruit: this varies from 2 to 20 grams, depending on the variety. In general: the higher the weight, the more suitable the variety is as a table olive, although there are exceptions, such as the Taggiasca variety (see below).
  • The ratio between pulp and stone: if this is above 5:1, the variety is more suitable as a table olive, if it is below 4:1, it is more suitable for pressing.
  • The oil content: depending on the variety, this can be between 18% and 27%. Varieties with a high oil content are logically preferred for the production of olive oil.
  • The harvesting method, more precisely the suitability for harvesting using the traditional "bruciatura", by simply hitting the trunk and branches of the tree. If olives can be harvested in this way, they are not or hardly damaged, for example by crushing. This risk is much greater with machine harvesting.

Of course - similar to the grape varieties that are used both as table grapes and in wine production - there are also some Italian olive varieties that are suitable for consumption as well as for the production of extra virgin olive oil.

These are usually medium-sized fruit varieties with a medium oil content.

Table olives: amazing variety...

Although 90% of all olives harvested worldwide are used for oil production, there is astonishing variety: behind the remaining 10%, which are used as table olives

Who is visiting the booth of a well-stocked olive dealer at the weekly market can easily convince yourself of this. The fruits of the olive tree offered for consumption actually differ significantly in size, shape and color, depending on the variety

The palette of colors for fully ripe olives ranges from reddish-brown to purple to black - green olives are unripe harvested fruits.

Their shape is always elliptical, but the range covers a wide spectrum from (almost) round to egg-shaped to elongated.

Mind you, these are exclusively “table olives”, i.e. table olives. Italian olive varieties that are used to produce olive oil, the "olive da olio", on the other hand, are logically not found in the display of an olive dealer.

The olive is a stone fruit, similar to cherry, plum or peach. Unlike these fruits, it is neither sweet nor edible raw. In order to make them edible, olives have to be soaked in water for a few days after harvesting, whereby most of the bitter substances are flushed out.

Inserting green olive water

This is followed by pitting and/or squeezing and finally marinating in brine or olive oil, sometimes with the addition of herbs or spices.

Below we present three excellent local table olives from Italy that we also offer in our online shop.

Taggiasca olive

Black and green Taggiasca olives Liguria Italy

The Taggiasca provides a good example of a "double-functional" olive: because of its high oil content of 25-26% , the brown to black-violet fruits of this variety when fully ripe are excellent for Pressing. On the other hand, they are also valued as table olives because of their extremely aromatic, fruity-sweet flesh - and that despite their small size: a single Taggiasca olive weighs an average of just 3 grams!

This late-ripening quality variety gets its name from the town of Taggia in Liguria: this is where it was once from Monks of the Cistercian Abbey of Lérins brought to the island of the same name, off Cannes in southern France.

Although the Taggiasca found its way to other regions of Italy over the centuries, the main focus of its cultivation is still in Liguria. This is also where the two producers Anfosso and Sommariva are at home, from whom we offer extra virgin olive oil or pickled Taggiasca olives.

Nocellara olive

The pickled olives of this large-fruited variety available here come from Quattrociocchi from the Latium, the region around Rome. The Nocellara is originally at home in a completely different part of Italy, namely in Sicily, more precisely in the Belice Valley in the west of the island. Its full name is therefore "Oliva Nocellara del Belice", under which it is also registered as an olive with a protected designation of origin (DOP).

The olive oil obtained from it, on the other hand, may - provided it meets the quality requirements - be sold as "Olio Extra Vergine Valle del Belice DOP". Thus, the Nocellara is the only variety for which there is a protected indication of origin, both as a table olive and as an olive oil.

By the way, both are characterized by their downright round, fruity taste, reminiscent of green tomatoes, almonds and artichokes.

Bella di Cerignola-Olive

Olives Bella di Cerignola Apulia Italy

Also the olives of this variety from the Italian region Apulia are quite large with an average of 11-18g.

They are easily recognizable by their striking light olive-green color and characteristic longitudinal notches. The "beauty from Cerignola" is mainly grown around the municipality of the same name in the province of Foggia in the north of the region.

There it even enjoys its own designation of origin under the name “La Bella di Daunia DOP”. It is a very old variety whose origins go back to the 15th century, the time of the Spanish rulers who are said to have brought it with them. Other sources suggest their origin in Roman times. The Bella di Cerignola olive, valued for its tart, fruity taste and meatiness, is almost exclusively pickled in brine.

Organic olives from Italy

Organic olives come from controlled organic cultivation. This type of farming has enjoyed increasing esteem among producers and consumers in more and more countries for decades, including olive farmers in Italy.

Organic Olives from Italy are recognizable (like all EU products from controlled organic cultivation) by the EU seal for organic products: This is clearly visible on the packaging and consists of a stylized leaf with the central rib and the leaf edge marked by stars in white on an olive-green background.

EU seal Italian organic olives

Organic food that bears this seal must meet several requirements: first and foremost, these are the complete renunciation of mineral artificial fertilizers, chemical pesticides For weed and pest control as well as genetic engineering.

The pest control is also done biologically, for example by releasing certain insects that devour the pests, and not with the often highly toxic pesticides.

Special requirements also apply to further processing: no artificial colorings or flavor enhancers may be used.

If a company manufactures the same product from both conventionally and organically grown fruits, their further processing must be carried out completely separately: Organic olives are washed, pitted and marinated separately from conventionally grown olives.

In short: Organically grown olives are healthy for you, good for the environment!