Olives are one of the oldest cultivated foods in the world. They originally came from the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Africa, and are mentioned frequently in The Bible. The fruits are highly nutritious and are generally cured, or processed in salt.
- Olive trees need warm summers, cool winters, and mild springs. In the U.S., they grow most reliably in California. A few grow in Texas and Arizona.
- Olive trees are beautiful, large trees that can live 500 years or more.
- Most olives are green before they ripen, but turn purple or black when ripe. A few varieties are green when ripe.
- Fresh olives are very bitter and do not taste good.
- The olive branch is a symbol of peace. This symbol is found on the flags of seven nations.
- Ancient Greeks crowned Olympic athletes with crowns of olive wreaths. In 2004, during the Olympics in Greece, athletes were once again crowned with olive wreaths.
- Olives are very high in vitamin E and heart-healthy antioxidants. Because they’re cured in salt, though, they are high in sodium.
- Olives (and olive oil) are major parts of the healthy Mediterranean diet.
- Olives are stone fruit. They are related to peaches, almonds, and cherries.
- Cure: a process of treating food to flavor, soften, and preserve it
- Bitter: unpleasant to the taste
Questions and Answers
Question: How can I eat olives?
Answer: You’ve probably eaten canned black olives right out of the can. Other types of olives, such as Kalamata or green olives, can be added to salads, sauces, and cheese plates.
Visit a Texas olive orchard with 11,000 olive trees.