I hope I‘m not the only one, but before moving to the main olive growing area of Spain I thought that black olives and green olives were different varieties. But they’re not.
My nearest town, Martos, is the olive growing capital of Spain. In the 50 km surrounding Martos they harvest the majority of the production for Jaen province, the most important olive growing and olive oil production area in Spain.
So after living here for ten years I now know the difference. The fruit start out green then when they’ve grown to full size they start to ripen. They change from green to purple then black. That’s when the oil comes into the fruit and they’re ready to harvest.
Around us harvesting starts the first or second week in December, variable because of the weather. Occasionally the harvest has started then been halted as the factories declare that the quality and quantity of oil is too low.
Harvesting normally takes around thirty to forty days. The factories decide when the harvest will end according to the amount of olives coming in. Straight after the harvest the trees are pruned, just the lower shoots and every second year a good hard prune. The branches and leaves are burnt in the olive groves and the wood for burning taken and stored.
This will take until the end of March and then by May the tree will be in flower again. If you’re a hay fever sufferer avoid visiting in May and early June! Being dry makes the problem worse and the dust everywhere is yellow.
Green olives for eating are the fruit that is picked before ripening, this makes them more bitter than the black olives which are picked when ripe. Normally eaten as tapas both black and green olives can be used in cooking. They do have a tendency to become bitter if cooked for too long, so only add them near the end of your cooking time.
Processing or marinating your own olive is a very simple and satisfying process especially if their from your own trees.
A simple recipe for green marinated olives
green olives to fill 1lb jar
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
cloves of garlic 3-6
The following may be added, all or those to your liking.
red wine vinegar
thyme 1tsp dried or 2 springs fresh
good shake paprika
1 tsp fennel
lemon slices 3-4
Cut the olives lengthways, pack into the jar with all your chosen ingredients.
Put in the fridge. Leave for two weeks but they are edible after 3-4 days.
A Spanish friend of mine, packs them in jars and leaves them out in the sun for a week.
A wonderful book with 101 uses for olive oil, in beauty care in the home and for your pets, a natural remedy for everyday situations. Fascinating tips on how to use olive oil in place of many modern remedies. I'm waiting for the tick season to try it on my dog!
A great and instructive cookbook to help you introduce more heathly olive oil to your daily diet.
Latiendahas an incredibly wide-range of Spanish olive oils for sale.