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The Different Types of Olives

You have dozens of varieties of olives to choose from, each with a different shape, size, and color. Unlike other fruits (olives are a pitted fruit that arises from tree blossoms), you must cure olives before eating them. Straight from the tree, they’re bitter and inedible.

You must taste around to find a variety and brand of olive that you like. Some of the most popular varieties are in this table (as shown in this figure).

[Credit: <i>PhotoDisc, Inc.</i>]
Credit: PhotoDisc, Inc.
Popular Olive Varieties
Variety Description
Cerignola This enormous olive is sold both green and black. The green variety has a mild and vegetal flavor. When black, the flesh is softer and sweeter, and the pit is much easier to remove.
Gaeta Small brownish black olive that can be hard to pit, but the flavor, which is reminiscent of nuts, is worth the effort.
Kalamata A plump, purplish black Greek variety that’s especially popular in U.S. markets and a good choice in most recipes calling for black olives.
Niçoise This small, brownish purple variety grows in southern France. Removing the large pits from these chewy, flavorful olives is hard.
Oil-Cured These wrinkled black olives have a meaty, chewy texture and are often very salty.
Sicilian Green Sometimes called Sicilian Colossals, these oversized olives have a dense, somewhat sour or tart flesh.
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