olive types gourmet food

The Olive Types Guide. Going beyond Green and Black

Each country around the Mediterranean has its various types of olives. Some are used as table olives, and others are used exclusively for oil.

Here is a list of the most known olive types by country of origin. Also, some ideas for how to best enjoy them.





Italian Olives

There are around 20 varieties of olives in Italy. This is the top 4 of the most famous and flavoured.  

Ascolana Tenera

They are harvested when the flesh is a pale green to yellow colour. They are usually cured in brine. They are meaty and soft.

Most commonly eaten as Olive all’Ascolana (a local speciality of deep fried stuffed Ascolana olives).

Region: Le Marche

Bella di Cerignola

They are very large, meaty, mild and buttery in flavor. They may be served either green or black (sometimes red, but the color is not natural). They are first cured in lye followed by a natural brine soak for up to 4 weeks.

Most commonly eaten for aperitivo, paired with Parmigiano cheese and some dry taralli (Italian crackers).

Region: Puglia

Nocellara del Belice

This is one of the finest table olive types in the world (they can also be used for oil). They are bright green in color, with a crisp flesh. Their taste is pleasantly sweet, sour and tangy with a subtle hint of bitterness.

Their are ideal for appetizers, entrées and side dishes.

Region: Sicily

Taggiasca

Taggiasca is a small and plump italian olive, deep red in color, sweet and fruity, whith hints of nutty almond and a firm bite. It is cured in sea salt brine for up to 5 months.

It pairs up with seafood, and salads, creamy, mild cheeses and a crisp Pinot Grigio.

Region: Liguria


  In the next episode you’ll learn about some of the famous Spanish olive types and you’ll get some suggestions for pairing them. In episode 3, we’ll talk about the Greek olive (the well known kalamata, but not only), while episode 4 will be about the French olives (Provence and the Côte d’Azur has some beautifully flavored olive types). We also plan an episode 5, where you’ll learn about the lesser known olive types (the tunisian, turkish, and portuguese). Sign up, we’ll let you know when the next episode is live.    

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE