& COOKING ARTICLE
olives . . . have you discovered yours yet?
Orce Serrano Hams
olives are rated amongst the best in the world and Spain
produces almost 30% of the world's olive oil and is
responsible for almost half of the world's olive production,
not surprising really as some of the best varieties
of olive are found in Spain with a substantial quantity
coming from Andalusia.
so many to choose from, have you found your perfect
the variety of olive, they each have their own unique
but distinct taste and having lived in Andalusia myself
for four years and not really enjoying any olive, I
was determined to try and find the one for me. Spain
produces a wide variety of olives due to its diverse
landscape and climate resulting in olives which range
form sweet and mild to peppery and bitter. There are
eight main varieties of olive which are fantastic for
eating, there are in fact many more types of Spanish
olive, about two hundred and fifty in total but we will
concentrate on the most common table olives.
Manzanilla and Queen olives are probably the most well
known and popular olives.
The Manzanillas are grown almost everywhere in
Spain and especially Andalusia. They are small and
tender and are considered the perfect martini olive,
they are also ideal for stuffing, the most popular
stuffing being anchovies.
Queen olives are large, plump and fleshy and are
grown in the Seville province of Andalusia. They are
perfect for stuffing as they are large and fantastic
in aroma and flavour and go really well with peppers,
almonds or seafood.
The most important variety of olive is the Picual
and is grown in the provinces of Jaen, Cordoba and
Granada in Andalusia. This olive represents almost
50% of Spain's olive production and is delightfully
peppery and fresh.
The Hojiblanca olive is a pure delight and the
first olive I tried that I immediately liked due to
its intense and diverse flavour - it tastes like lots
of olives in one it is peppery, then fruity with traces
of almonds and even grassy hints. The name comes from
the leaves, hoja meaning leaf and blanca white and
from a distance these trees look vary bright and almost
Another of my recommendations is the Arbequina
olive which comes from Aragon and Catalonia and is
Spain's best loved olive. The fruit is small and delicate
with lovely diverse flavours ranging from smoky and
mild to earthy and fruity with hints of artichokes
and even apple.
The Sierra Magina in the Jaen province of Andalusia
is home to the beautifully dark Verdial olive which
is quite large with a distinct fruity, yet spicy flavour.
I would recommend this olive to a seasoned connoisseur
as it is robust and commands respect.
The Picolimon olive is a great table olive with
its juicy fullness and fresh citrus flavour. They
are round and fleshy and go really well with nuts
and dried fruit as an aperitif.
The Picudo olive with its lovely unique pointed
end like a peak which is from where the name is derived,
is generally found in the Andausian regions of Malaga,
Jaen, Granada and especially Baena in Cordoba . It
is a sweet and fruity olive with soft juicy flesh
and makes for a popular table olive in both the green
and black varieties.
olives are harvested whilst still green and as a result
they are not yet fully ripe and if eaten raw are very
hard and bitter. Before bottling, they have to be 'cured'
and this is where the fun begins when choosing your
favourite type of olive. Initially the preparation for
bottling begins with washing and then storing in brine
for a long period of time to remove the bitterness and
the curing process of green olives, the brine is often
prepared with different herbs and aromatics for an exciting
but subtly flavoured olive. In some cases families who
have been curing their own olives for generations use
carefully guarded secret recipes which results in a
totally unique olive.
I would recommend the Hojiblanca, Picolimon and the
Arbequina olive, as they have the most appeal for me
both in taste and texture. They are delightful on their
own but if you get them preserved in different herbs
such as garlic, oregano or thyme and even preserved
in lemon, then they come into their own.
is an olive out there for everyone, it's just a matter
of tasting as many as you can . . . until you find yours!
Copyright 2008 Orce Serrano Hams - www.orceserranohams.com
07 May 2008
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