Olives are known as Olea Europaea and they are a common and ancient vegetable used throughout the Mediterranean basin. The olive is a product of a small tree and it’s spread from Portugal to China in the ancient world. Now it’s exported and produced pretty much around the globe.
It’s used to produce oil and in salads and as addition to meals. They are produced in the US, mostly in its southern parts with the California being the biggest producer out there.
- It’s technically a fruit
- Fossil evidence show that olives are 20-40 million years old
- They are grown commercially for 3000 years
Olives should have a clean aroma. If something smells fishy and stale with the olives in the market, they are probably fermented in a wrong way. It’s also important to note that even though we are used to avoid moldy foods this isn’t the case with olives. Moldy olives are useable when cleaned.
In most markets they will allow you to taste the olive from a batch before you buy and that’s something you can learn about over time. Olives are also firm to the touch without being to woody, when fresh. Check the skin for discoloration as well.
Production & Farming in Texas
Growing olives in Texas isn’t always easy due to the climate difference from their original source and the one in Texas. However, it can be done and it’s done commercially by many successful farmers. At this point there’s as much as 800 acres of Texas land covered in olives.
The goal is to find the climate that most resembles that of the Mediterranean: meaning mild winters and long and dry summers. The trees start to grow in spring when the temperatures go above 80 F. They don’t experience winter dormancy periods like most other trees.
Soil is much less of an issue for olives because they grow in a variety of different areas and they are used to a variety of different soils. It can grow from sandy soil to those that are filled with clay. The ph value that can be used ranges from 5.5 to 8.5.
The tree needs to be 4 to 5 years old in order to bear fruit. This is therefore a long term investment. They are harvested in mid to late September to early October. A mature olive can be green or black depending on the variety you’re growing.
Insecticides are commonly applied to olive groves to control pests, such as Dacus oleae, Saissetia oleae and Prays oleae. They also increase the size of the yield.
Olives have been grown for thousands of years in the Levant. It was grown commercially in ancient Greece and in China millennia ago. It was brought to what’s today’s US by Spanish missionaries and there it has found a home in the southern parts of the country.
Their first production was made for the purpose of selling oil. The craze to use the olives in food and in salads and pizza in particular is a later inventions and one that was mostly popularized by the Italian population.
How olives are packed depends on when they are ripe. Green olives are picked before they are ripe and therefore they come in jars and not in cans, as is the case with the black ones. The green ones need to be brine-cured before they can be packed. That’s a process that lasts of 8 months.
After that the olives packed in jars could be stored for quite a long time without being refrigerated. That’s the case for edible olives, other simply go towards making oil.
Brined olives are easy to use. It starts with discarding the brine and marinating them in oil and lemon. If not, you can also keep them in salty water and use them as such. Olives are usually added to salads, pizzas, pastas and used as a side to a dish.
All of these options should be considered with taking into account the taste and properties of the olives themselves. They are bitter and a bit harsh and therefore they are used to add balance to your dish and especially so if it’s bland in taste without them.
When the olives come in brine you can store them in a pantry or just in the kitchen if it’s not too hot and that can be done for a long time, as long as months in some cases. If you brine the olives yourself the same applies when you’re done.
However, brining is a skill of its own and there are plenty of tips out there on how to do it, but be prepared for the learning curve.
Beyond using olives in salads and as pizza and pasta toppings, you could add to a variety of dishes and use their soured taste to add balance to the meal. Here’s a simple recipe using red paprika, olives and chicken that can feed four different people.
*Season the chicken pieces all over. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large shallow casserole or frying pan and fry the chicken on both sides until the skin is golden brown, about 10 minutes. You may need to do this in batches. Transfer from the pan onto a plate. Drain most of the fat from the pan, add the onions and garlic, and fry for 8 minutes on a low heat until the onions are soft. Add the tomatoes, peppers and rosemary and simmer for another 10 minutes until the tomatoes break down. Add the wine and simmer for 20-30 minutes until it thickens and becomes a rich sauce. Add a splash of water if it becomes too thick. Heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5.
*Stir the olives through the sauce, then nestle the chicken back into the pan. If the pieces don’t fit in one layer, transfer the sauce and chicken to a baking dish. Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through and the meat pulls away from the bone easily. Allow to cool to room temperature, then tip into freezer boxes in portions, or freeze the whole baking dish covered in clingflim then foil, if you like.
*To reheat, allow to thaw overnight in the fridge. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Tip into an ovenproof dish (add another splash of water if the sauce has thickened too much when cooled), and cook for 30-40 minutes until piping hot. Scatter over some basil, and serve with pasta or potatoes.
Olives contain 115–145 calories per 3.5 ounces (100 grams), or about 59 calories for 10 olives. The nutrition facts for 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of ripe, canned olives are (3Trusted Source): Calories: 115 Water: 80% Protein: 0.8 grams Carbs: 6.3 grams Sugar: 0 grams Fiber: 3.2 grams Fat: 10.7 grams Saturated: 1.42 grams Monounsaturated: 7.89 grams Polyunsaturated: 0.91 grams
They’re associated with many health benefits, especially for heart health and cancer prevention. Antioxidant properties Dietary antioxidants have been shown to reduce your risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer. Olives are rich in antioxidants, with health benefits ranging from fighting inflammation to reducing microorganism growth. One study showed that eating a pulpy residue from olives significantly increased blood levels of glutathione, one of the most powerful antioxidants in your body.
When Are Olives in Season in Texas?
To find out when Olives are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.