Olives -

Asia Minor is generally credited with being the original home of the olive, which is one of the oldest of known fruits and is often mentioned in ancient writings.

The tree is an evergreen with abundant foliage of very small greenish-gray leaves. It often reaches a great height and attains a remarkable age - there are trees in the districts near Nice, France, and Genoa, Italy, believed to be more than 2,000 years old.

Fruit is borne every other year. The flowering begins in the spring and the olive is formed by the end of July. It is green in color until it attains its full size, but it then gradually becomes yellowish and, later, a dark purplish brown as it ripens. The picking commences in November and frequently lasts until the beginning of April. The oil obtained from the January and February crops is generally considered the best.

The olive is cultivated in many countries - in the Eastern Hemisphere in all countries bordering on the Mediterranean; in the United States, chiefly in California. There are many varieties, differing considerably both in the size of the fruit and its oil content, the latter averaging from 20% to 30%. For the production of Olive Oil, the feature next in importance to a sufficient crop is a large percentage of oil. For pickling, the chief desiderata are large size and firm flesh. France, Italy and California produce the bulk of the fruit used in the making of oil. The finest pickled Green Olives come from the South of Spain, some of the fruit reaching the size of a plum. California and Arizona lead in the marketing of the pickled ripe or "Black" olive - on the Pacific coast, the green olive is passing into oblivion.

Among the best known varieties of pickling Olives are the Queen, Manzanillo and Mission.

The fruit for pickled green Olives are gathered when they have attained full size, but before the final ripening commences. They are assorted according to size and quality, then washed and placed in a solution of lime and potash to remove their bitter taste. Next comes washing with sufficient water to remove the caustic flavor of the solution and finally the pickling, the process varying with the customs of various localities. Some use brine only, or salt and vinegar mixed - others add fennel and thyme or coriander, laurel leaves, etc. The fruit is generally pickled whole, but when it is desired to give it a stronger pickle savor, it is marked with incisions to the stone.

A perfect pickled green olive is yellowish-green, very firm, with pinkish pit and agreeable flavor. It must have all of these points, for each is essential to a fine product. Fruit of lesser quality is generally dark in color, with meat soft and mushy or woody and tasteless, these defects being caused either by age or imperfect curing.

Pickled or salted ripe or "Black" Olives are purplish-black in exterior appearance and dark and rather soft in pulp, with a bland flavor due to the oil developed in ripening. They are processed in much the same manner as the green fruit, as prior to pickling they still retain the characteristic bitter flavor.

Green Olives are essentially a relish. Ripe Olives constitute a wholesome and very nutritious food. Dry bread, unsweetened biscuits, boiled or baked potatoes or similar articles should be eaten with ripe Olives, as they are too rich for consumption alone.

Olives are not at first taste generally enjoyed by the average person in this country, but appreciation of them is, in most cases, readily acquired and there is a steadily increasing consumption of both imported and domestic brands, many varieties of green Olives being very popular stuffed or filled with peppers, celery, etc., especially the first-named.

A saucer of Olives placed on the counter convenient to the customer's reach, will sometimes start the olive habit in a family and lead to steady sales. When plain Olives are not relished, the stuffed varieties may often be advantageously "demonstrated," or offered free to be sampled.

Olives should be served in a small quantity of brine and cracked ice, after being thoroughly chilled in the refrigerator. They should never be rinsed in water.

Arround Olives in The Grocer's Encyclopedia

Olive Oilhome
Olla Podrida

The Grocer's Encyclopedia
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