Black Olives


Olives that have been ripened, either naturaly or artificially.


Translations: Melnās olīvas, Juodosios alyvuogės, Masline negre, Crnih maslina, Czarne oliwki, Zwarte Olijven, काले जैतून, Azeitonas Pretas, Маслины, Μαύρες Ελιές, زيتون أسود, 블랙 올리브, Černé olivy, Црне маслине, Black oliba, 黑橄榄, Negre Oliveres, Black Olive, Čierne olivy, Olive Nere, שחור הזיתים, Svarta Oliver, Hitam Zaitun, ブラックオリーブ, Olives Noires, Schwarze Oliven, Sort Oliven, Svart Oliven, Negro Olivos, Маслини, Mustia oliiveja, Черни маслини

Physical Description

Some olives are picked green and unripe, while others are allowed to fully ripen on the tree to a black color. Yet, not all of the black olives available begin with a black color. Some processing methods expose unripe greens olives to the air, and the subsequent oxidation turns them a dark color. In addition to the original color of the olive, the color is affected by fermentation and/or curing in oil, water, brine or salt.

Colors: gray to black

Tasting Notes

Flavors: salty
Mouthfeel: Crunchy, Earthy
Food complements: Pasta, Breads, Tomato sauces, Lemon, Oregano, Basil
Wine complements: Red wine, Plum wine, White wine, Malbec, Zinfandel
Beverage complements: Beer, Mead
Substitutes: Kalamata olives

Selecting and Buying

Choosing: If you purchase olives in bulk, make sure that the store has a good turnover and keeps their olives immersed in brine for freshness and to retain moistness.
Buying: While olives have been traditionally sold in jars and cans, many stores are now offering them in bulk in large barrels. Buying bulk olives will allow you to experiment with many different types with which you may be unfamiliar and to purchase only as many as you need at one time.

Procuring: Olives are harvested in September but available year round to make a zesty addition to salads, meat and poultry dishes and, of course, pizza.

Preparation and Use

Olive tapenade is a delicious and easy-to-make spread that you can use as a dip, sandwich spread, or topping for fish and poultry. To make it, put pitted olives in a food processor with olive oil, garlic, and your favorite seasonings. Toss pasta with chopped olives, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and fresh herbs of your choice. Marinate olives in olive oil, lemon zest, coriander seeds and cumin seeds. Add chopped olives to your favorite tuna or chicken salad recipe.Set out a small plate of olives on the dinner table along with some vegetable crudités for your family to enjoy with the meal.

Cleaning: usually not necessary.

Conserving and Storing

Olives will keep freshest if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Olives were brought to America by the Spanish and Portuguese explorers during the 15th and 16th century. Franciscan missinariesw introduced olives into California in the late 18th century. Today, much of the commercial cultivation of olives occurs in Spain, Italy, Greece, and Turkey.

History: Olives, one of the oldest foods known, are thought to have originated in Crete between five and seven thousand years ago. Their use quickly spread throughout Egypt, Greece, Palestine and Asia Minor. Olives are mentioned in the Bible, depicted in ancient Egyptian art, and played an important role in Greek mythology. Since ancient times, the olive tree has provided food, fuel, timber and medicine for many civilizations. It has also been regarded as a symbol of peace and wisdom. Olive oil has been consumed since 3000 BC.


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