See also: Olive Oil; Olive Quotes
OLIVES and OLIVE TREES
The oldest olive tree in the world is on the island of Crete. The tree is over 5,000 years old and is still producing fruit.
Olives are not edible, green or ripe, and must be treated with lye and/or cured in brine or dry salt before being edible. They contain about 20% oil.
Olives must be processed to remove the bitter glucoside oleuropein, before they are edible, so they are usually first treated with lye and then pickled.
Greek olives are not treated with lye. They are strong tasting because they are just packed in dry salt, or pickled in brine for 6 to 12 months (where they undergo a process of lactic fermentation), and finally packed in fresh brine.
Spanish green olives are picked before they are ripe, treated with lye, then placed in a brine and allowed to ferment.
California olives are treated to set the pigment, treated with lye and then packed immediately in brine and sterilized. They do not undergo the fermentation process, and the sterilization 'cooks' them. This lack of fermentation, and the 'cooking' when they are sterilized produces a bland, uninteresting olive.
Olives have been a staple in the Mediterranean for at least 5,000 years.
Olive trees may live to be 1500 years old, the average life span is about 500 years.
Over 90% of world olive production is used to make oil, and almost 98% of the acreage is in the Mediterranean region.
California is the only state where olives are grown commercially.
There are 500 million olive trees in Europe, and 50 million in California. California produces less than 5% of the world crop, but it produces more than 70% of the ripe olives consumed in the U.S.
Ten medium size black olives have 50 calories and 4 grams of fat.