Who doesn't love Italian food? Italian cuisine is among the best in the world, or should I say Spettacolare!
Italian recipes are made of fresh and seasonal ingredients without additives and processed foods. Almost all of their ingredients are locally farmed and excellently complement Italian cuisine.
Italians know their food. It is no coincidence that this cuisine has crossed cultures and borders.
Italians consider their food a work of art, and their cuisine requires a passion for good taste.
One of the main ingredients in Italian cuisine is olives. Olives are an essential ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine, and Italy is the nation that uses them to its best advantage. Everything except the stone seems to be useful in some way or the other, whether they are pressed for their oils, consumed by themselves, or included in a variety of olive recipes.
The Italian Olives
For centuries, the entire Mediterranean region has depended on the origins of Italian olives. Americans have just recently learned to value olives for reasons other than as a martini topping. For more than 6,000 years, olive trees have been cultivated in Italy.
The olive tree is now grown extensively throughout the Near East and Europe. It has evolved into several varieties throughout the centuries that enable it to be grown in a variety of settings, from the harsh climates of the Italian Apennines to the hot climates of southern Spain.
Italy is still among the top producers of olives in the world, accounting for over 90% of olives. The olive tree's life cycle coincides practically perfectly with the months of the calendar year. The trees are dormant from January through February, and buds start emerging around the third week of February, foreshadowing a short flowering phase in May that lasts for about a week. Shortly afterward, the buds begin to wilt. The fruits reach maturity when they areharvested in November or December.
An olive's color, shape, and flavor are greatly influenced by its genotypes or varieties. There are multiple distinct varieties of olive trees, with over 400 different kinds identified in Italy alone. Some of their extra virgin olive oils are of single varieties, which means they are produced using only one kind of cold-pressed olive, whereas others are composed of a variety of cold-pressed olive cultivars.
The Italian olives are a fruit, much like mangoes, peaches, or cherries, since their seed is inside a center stone within the fruit. Every olive goes through a phase of ripening, during which they change from green to black. They produce pigmentation that spans between deep red, brown, to dark purple throughout this process. Simply put, the maturity of an Italian olive is determined by its color.
Green and black olives both have salty, astringent flavors that elevate ordinary foods to something spectacular. Not only do Italian olives take pizzas to the next level, but they also taste great when added to pasta sauces like spaghetti alla puttanesca. If you are feeling a little more adventurous than usual, you can try Eugenio Boer's "Ligurian cod", which is salt fish with potato, olive cream, and tomato, or the Red mullet with tomato, black olive, and capers from the Costardi Brothers if you want to cook something easier but just as delicious Antonella la Macchia's Scracciata Catanese, a kind of cheese pie from Sicily, or Manuela Zangara's aubergine caponata.
When you are out buying olives, you will typically get what you paid for. The less expensive jars of black olives frequently include only green olives that have been dyed and miss the authentic black olive flavor.
Let's talk about the top 6 mouthwatering Italian olives that you can use to begin your Italian cuisine adventures.
The Top 6 Mouthwatering Italian Olives to Get the Perfect Taste of Italy
There are several varieties of olives, as we explained above, but if you want to experience the true flavor and complexity of various olive cultivars, you have to choose those that have not been lye-cured. We'll discuss several kinds of Italian olives and the one, in our opinion, is the best and tastiest one on the market.
The Black Moroccan
Olives that have been dry-cured using salt and afterward rehydrated by soaking in oil for weeks are known as oil-cured olives. The intense black coloration and lustrous exterior of oil-cured olives make them their most recognizable feature. Oil-cured olives typically have a somewhat wrinkled texture, comparable to prunes, in addition to their color and gloss.
Black Moroccans are delicious and meaty, making them ideal for oil-curing. They can be included on a charcuterie board with apples, cheese, and nuts, or they can be thrown in a Frisee salad or added to a pizza with caramelized onions. The flavor punch these olives can give is comparable to nothing and will certainly have you craving for more.
Pitted Black Jumbo Olives
The extra-large black olives without pits are indeed the ideal choice for dressing up sandwiches, pasta sauces, and salads. With a handful of sour and salty black olives, even the most boring and monotonous dishes can be made more interesting. The best thing about pitted olives is you won't need to do the extra labor to remove the seeds from the center. All you have to do to amp your dish is toss those black beauties in.
The "beaut" of an olive, the Italian Bella di Cerignola , is gigantic in size and delicious in flavor, whether green, black, or red. For those who are new to eating olives, we suggest these milder, buttery olives.
The beautiful and delicious Cerignola olive is from Southern Italy and is hand picked there. Cerignola olives have a mild flavor and are slightly salty, making them ideal for martinis, snacks, or complementing with cheese. This olive variety is mostly utilized in the manufacture of olive oil because of its well- balanced flavor and high oil content. These buttery treats go well with sharp hard cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano or milder Genoa Salami and creamy mozzarella. Smoked cheeses complement the black Cerignola variety well.
Olives from the Italian region of Calabria are known for having a robust taste. These Italian olives could add heat to any dish because they are flavored with hot peppers, garlic, and fennel.
They are produced in large quantities in the fall in order to store them for a significant duration and allow for year-round consumption. They are known as "living ammaccate" in Calabrian speech. They are frequently offered as an appetizer along with cold cuts and cheese and are delicious and tempting. They receive their name from the force that is used for crushing and opening them. In the Calabrian custom, this weight is a stone, but it could also be a meat mallet.
The Gaeta olive is the black gem of Italian olives. It is the best for cooking purposes and also the most renowned and well-liked among Italians. Velletrana, Reitana, Olivacore, Gitana, Gaetana, Cicerone, Aitanella, and Itrana are some more names for them. This olive is the Kalamata olive's global adversary; no gourmet expert could distinguish between the two.
Gaeta olives are black and small and are either salt or brine-cured. This olive can be sliced and added to a vinaigrette or salad or eaten as an appetizer by itself.
These are last on our list, but our favorite kind, and definitely the most delicious in our opinion. Castelvetrano olives are a distinctive kind that will convert anybody to an olive enthusiast. This is the kind of olive to marinate as just an appetizer or to include in a bowl of freshly made hummus. Sicilian-grown Castelvetrano olives are a particular green olive cultivar known for their rich, buttery taste and crunchy texture. They are good for individuals who avoid highly potent and salty kinds because of their moderate and fruity flavor.
The variety is also known as Nocellara del Belice because it is cultivated in the Sicilian Belice Valley. They are picked early, and unlike most olives, these are not cured; instead, the bitter flavor is merely eliminated by washing them in water and lye for a few days.
Castelvetrano olives are ideal for munching due to their rich, buttery taste. You can either include them on a charcuterie or cheese platter or just eat them straight from a bowl. They taste fantastic in pasta, salads, pizza, and bowl dinners. For a popular party snack, prepare a platter of marinated olives and win over your crowd.
We recommend the Castelvetrano olive to begin your Italian cuisine adventures. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- Put cured meats, cheese, fig jam, and almonds on a charcuterie board and take it up a notch with these beautiful Italian olives.
- Marinate your Castelvetrano olives with garlic and lemon, and enjoy them as scrumptious finger food.
- Put them to use in a serving of Mediterranean hummus, and you'll never go back to eating hummus without Castelvetrano olives.
- Add these beauties to an Italian side salad.
- In spaghetti puttanesca, swap them out with Kalamatas.
- Make sandwiches or crostini with a spread of Castelvetrano olives.
- Add them to your pizza diavola and appreciate the complex, beautiful flavors in your mouth.
When pitted, Castelvetranos resemble a cheap imitation of their former self. Buy them while retaining their pits. Like all fresh green olives, this Sicilian olive is at its peak in October and September. But it doesn't mean you shouldn't consume them all year long. They are just to die for during this season. Castelvetranos, unlike other types like the extremely salty Kalamata or the pungent pimento-stuffed version, have a buttery, mellow taste that is distinctive and special.
History and Harvest of Italian Olives
Now let's learn a bit more about this amazing ingredient and how it ends up on our plates. Olive trees have been growing on Earth for millennia, and for over 8,000 years, their fruit has been picked. The cultivation of olive trees dates back thousands of years, making them among the oldest trees in the world. Originally from Syria and Central Asia, olives are grown all over the Mediterranean coast and throughout the US and South America. They grow best in rocky terrain, subtropical climates, and particularly salty air.
The method used to harvest olives is just one of the markers of quality. This procedure takes a long time and requires a lot of manual labor. And sure, we are referring to the main techniques to harvest olives, namely the traditional method.
And every olive should be picked by hand. This is a better approach because by manually selecting each fruit, you can ensure that it is fully ripe and free of flaws. You will have the best, most flavorful olives thanks to this traditional technique.
You can buy the best traditionally harvested Italian olives from Supermarket Italy's Olives and Capers section.
Supermarket Italy has a selection of only the best quality Italian olives, which you can use in your Italian recipes and experience the true taste of Italy. You can find all Italian olive varieties, from black olives to the olive OG and the Castelvetrano, on our online shopping portal and have them delivered to your doorstep. You can also download our online application and save up to 10% you first in app purchase.