About Table Olives

Salted olives

Salted olives

The olive fruit is a drupe. It has a bitter component (oleuropein), a low sugar content (2.6 – 6%) compared with other drupes (12% or more) and a high oil content (12-30%) depending on the time of year and variety. These characteristics make it a fruit that cannot be consumed directly from the tree and it has to undergo a series of processes that differ considerably from region to region, and which also depend on variety.

Some olives are. however, an exception to this rule because as they ripen they sweeten right on the tree, in most cases this is due to fermentation. One case in point is the Thrubolea variety in Greece.

Oleuropein, which is distinctive to the olive, has to be removed as it has a strong bitter taste: it is not, however, pernicious to health. Depending on local methods and customs, the fruit is generally treated in sodium or potassium hydroxide, brine or successively rinsed in water.


SIZE: The olive’s suitability for table consumption is a function of its size, which is important to presentation. Olives between 3 and 5 g are considered medium-sized, while those weighing over 5 g are large.

SHAPE:Fruits that are more or less spherical in shape usually sell best, although some elongated ones also find favour.

STONE: The stone should come away easily from the flesh and a flesh:stone ratio of 5 to 1 is acceptable; the higher this ratio the better the commercial value of the olives.

SKIN: The skin of the fruit should be fine. yet elastic and resistant to blows and to the action of alkalis and brine.

SUGAR CONTENT: A high sugar content in the flesh is an asset. The lowest acceptable level is 4%, especially in olives that undergo fermentation.

OIL CONTENT: Oil content should be as low as possible because in many cases it impairs the keeping properties and consistency of the processed fruit. Only in certain types of black olives is a medium to high oil content desirable.


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