Olives are tiny fruits that have been cured in salt, water, or lye to offset their bitterness. They’re packed with cholesterol-lowering
monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and antioxidants.
How to Choose Olives
An olive’s color depends on ripeness, not variety: Green olives are picked before they’re fully ripe and are denser and more sharply flavored than ripe black olives, which contain more oil. Olives sold in bulk (in large, open containers by the pound) are often more flavorful than jarred or canned. Common varieties are black kalamata (large, meaty, salty, almond shaped), green Spanish (slightly bitter, often stuffed with pimento), and the ubiquitous, rather bland black Mission olives.
How to Store Olives
Unopened cans and jars keep at room temperature for up to 18 months (discard cans that are dented, bulging, or rusted); opened, they can be refrigerated for several weeks in their own liquid. Refrigerate bulk olives submerged in brine or olive oil for up to 2 weeks.
How to Prepare Olives
Pitting olives is generally easier with black ones than with green. Here’s how to go about it: Place the olive on a cutting board and press down on it with the side of a chef’s knife. (The blade should face away from you.) If the olive doesn’t split apart, apply a gentle rocking motion, rolling the olive back and forth once or twice on your cutting board until the olive breaks open and the pit is revealed. Then pull out the pit with your fingers.
How to Use Olives
Eat olives out of hand as an appetizer, bake them in breads, or add them to salads or sauces for fish (add them at the last minute—they can get bitter if cooked too long).
Real Simple Olive Recipes:
- Chicken and Olive Bread Panzanella
- Mozzarella, Salami, and Green Olive Salad
- Slow-Cooker Sausage and Kale Stew
- Lemon and Olive Chicken With Arugula and White Bean Salad
- Slow-Cooker Lamb, Apricot, and Olive Tagine
Fruits and vegetables at their peak right now.
Find out what's in season in your area right now, then locate a farmers' market near you.