Olives

Olives

OlivesOlives are commonly known for making olive oil. While they might be small, they are a great nutrition pack which provide various health benefits. Olives are a source of phytonutrients and they are also known for their high vitamin E content. Also, they provide cardiovascular benefits as well as contain cancer-fighting properties. The health benefits, the preparation methods and tips on how to store olives will be addressed in this article.

Description

Olives belong to a special type of fruits which is also known as drupes. Drupes are fruits which have a stone or a pit in the middle. This pit or stone is surrounded by a fleshy portion which is known as pericarp. Many fruits and nuts are considered to be drupes. For example, mango, cherry, plum, almond, apricot and nectarine all belong to the category of drupes. There are hundreds of different types of olive trees. However, all of them belong to the same scientific category which holds the scientific name Olea Europea. “Olea” is the Latin term for oil. This term reflects the high oil content which can be found in olives. Olive trees are considered to be native to the region of the Mediterranean. However, some studies also suggest that olive trees were also found in Africa and Asia. The fact that the second part of the scientific name of olives is Europea is because many countries in the south of Europe border the Mediterranean Sea. Olive trees have an incredibly long life span. Most of the olive trees in the world live up to several hundred years. In one case, an olive tree set the record for being on the planet for over 2,000 years. Olive trees can also grow in different conditions which makes them very versatile. It is the case that olive trees usually produce more olives when they grow in lowland terrain. However, the trees are also comfortable growing in rocky and mountainous conditions, such as the hillsides of Italy, Greece and Spain. Olives come in many different varieties. The types of olives which are most popular in the United States can be categorized in five main groups. These are Barouni, Manzanillo, Sevillano, Mission and Ascolano. All these types of olives grow almost exclusively in California. Two other types of olives which also grow in California but are not as commonly consumed are Rubra and Picholine olives.

Kalamata olives

The one type of olives which needs specific attention is the Kalamata olive. Authentic Kalamata olives originally come from the Kalamon olive trees. These trees can be found in the south of Greece. These olives thank their name to the city of origin which is Kalamata. The law of the European Union is very specific about these olives and has given them the Protected Geographical Status as well as the Protected Designation of Origin. This means that nobody is allowed to call the olives Kalamata olives unless they come from this specific area in Greece. However, this law does not apply to countries outside of the European Union. It is for this reason that many countries label olives as Kalamata olives while they are not authentic Kalamata olives. You will often see this label on canned or jarred olives, especially in the United States. Kalamata olives which come from the southern city of Greece ripe fully before they are being harvested. There are various methods which are used in the production of Kalamata olives. One of the most commonly used methods is dry-curing. When dry-curing, olives are directly covered in salt instead of soaking them in brine. Brine is a concentrated salt liquid, which will be addressed later in this article. The method of dry-curing the most commonly used method for olives which intend to be stored for a long period of time. Olives which have been dry-cured can usually be identified by their wrinkly skin. When packaged, Kalamata olives are usually stored in olive oil or a combination of olive oil and vinegar. In some cases, seasoning is added to give the olives additional flavour. In other cases, Kalamata olives are cured in water or is salt brine. When they are cured in this way, they are stored in red wine or in red wine vinegar to give them extra flavour.

Different processes

As mentioned, one of the processes which can be used to produce olives is dry-cured. However, there are many other different methods which can be used. For example, water-curing is another method which can be used to produce olives. Water-curing involves the submersion of olives in water. This process usually least for a couple of weeks, but might also take longer. Olives which have been water-cured usually remain a bit bitter. This is due to the fact that the process of water-curing removes less oleuropein from the olives compared to other curing methods. Another method which is commonly adopted is brine-curing. Instead of curing it is water, brine-cured olives are submersed in a concentrated salt solution. Examples of olives which are brine-cured are Sicilian style brine olives and Greek style brine olives. Compared to the process of water-curing, brine-curing takes much longer. This process can last up till a couple of months. During this process, olives often also undergo fermentation. Fermentation implies that the sugars which are present in olives are broken down in acetic of lactic acid. The oleuropein which will be freed in this case will move into the brine. The flavour of olives often changes during this process. Another process is called lye-curing. This process implies that olives are submersed in a strong alkali solution. This solution contains either potassium hydroxide or it contains sodium hydroxide. The process of lye-curing usually occurs in various steps. The first solution helps to cure the skin of the olives. After this first step, the olives are drained and the solution is discarded. The next solution in which the olives are put helps to cure the next layer of pulp inside the olive. For the entire olive, up to five different lye solutions can be used. Green olives and olives which are considered to be dark style ripe are examples of olives which are commonly lye-cured. During the last stage of this process, oxygen gas is often bubbled through the solution. This is done in order for the olives to become darker. Canned California black olives which are often sold in cans are olives which are often lye-cured. While the different processes can all have an influence on the colour of the olive, the colour of olives does not necessarily have to change. It is also important to note that different factors can have an influence on the colour of olives. Many different types of olives start off green and later become black once they are fully ripe. Other types of olives, on the other hand, start off green and remain green unless exposed to air or curing. There are also olives which start off black and remain black once they are fully ripe.


History

Various studies have been conducted on the native regions of olives. Olives have been cultivated in different parts of the Mediterranean region. Countries in which olives are commonly grown include Syria and Greece. In these countries, olives have been cultivated for over 5,000 years. There has also been evidence that the olive tree has been present in Spain for more than 8,000 years. This ancient tree was also found to be native to various parts in Africa as well as in Asia. While researchers are not sure when olive trees actually arrived in the United States, it is clear that this only happened during the 1700’s. It is suggested that Spanish colonizers were the first ones to bring olives to North America. While some olives and olive trees were directly brought to California, it is also said that olive trees were imported from Mexico. This is due to the fact that Spanish has arrived there before arriving in North America. Olives are considered to be one of the world’s largest fruit crops. More than 25 million acres of olive trees are planted on a global scale. They are produced in amounts larger than that apples, grapes or oranges are produced. The country which is the largest single producer of olives is Spain. They produce more than 6 million tons of olives every year. The second largest producer of olives is Italy. They produce over 3,5 million tons of olives each year. Italy is then followed by Greece. The entire Mediterranean region has more than 800 million olive trees, of which 90% of the olives are used to make olive oil. The remaining 10 percent is kept as a whole food.

Health risks

While not many people are allergic to olives, there are a few things you should keep in mind. It is not very common to have an allergy for olives, but an allergy to olive tree pollen is more common. Individuals who are sensitive to olive tree pollen might experience an allergic reaction in the mouth and throat. Another risk related to the consumption of olives is with regards to the heavy metals and minerals present in olives. Consuming a high quantity of heavy metals could have harmful effects. On the long term this could also increase the risk of cancer. However, many people do not consume olives in very large amounts and they are therefore considered to be safe. Acrylamide is also present in olives. This specific compound has been linked to an increased risk of cancer in certain studies. It is for this reason that authorities recommended to limit the intake of acrylamide as much as possible.

How to select and store

Traditionally, olives were sold in cans and in jars. However, many stores now offer olives in large barrels or in bulk. By purchasing olives in bulk, it will allow you to experiment with the different types of olives which you might not be familiar with. Olives are also offered in different forms. For example, you can find olives which have been stuffed with peppers, almonds or garlic. Olives are also offered with pit. Thus, purchase those olive which have your personal preference. When buying olives in bulk, it is important to check the date on the can to be sure that they will not go bad soon. When you select olives, pay extra attention when the label says that the olives are “hand-picked”. This particular label might not tell you much about the olive harvesting process. Some cans or bins might have the label “hand-picked” on them but they might not actually be hand-picked. For example, some olives which are mechanically harvested often also get the label that they have been hand-picked while this is not the case. If you buy olives in a can and do not use all of them immediately, you can store them in a sealed container. You can then store them in the refrigerator for one or two weeks. The liquid or brine can be transferred to the container. Glass jars of olives can also be stored in the refrigerator for the same period of time.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 693x
Added: 08-02-2017 18:36
Last modified: 23-04-2017 22:03

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