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What Are Greek Olives?

Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke

An olive is a small, pitted fruit with a sour, bitter flavor. It grows on trees and is native to the Mediterranean area, particularly the country of Greece, one of the leading producers of olives. There are a variety of Greek olives that range in color, flavor, and texture; however, they all tend to play a major role in Greek cuisine from being an ingredient in traditional dishes to being used for the production of olive oil.

Greek olives tend to be considered a versatile ingredient in Greece’s cuisine. The fruit is not usually consumed raw directly from the tree. Instead, after being picked from the olive trees, the individuals olives are often soaked in vinegar, salt, or oil, a process referred to as brining, before being packaged in jars or tins with the brining solution. The olives may have small slits cut into them before being added to the brining ingredients in order for the ingredients to fully penetrate and flavor the olives. They may be served by themselves cold or at room temperature as a snack or appetizer, or they may be used as an ingredient in other hot dishes, such as casseroles and savory pies, or as a garnish.

Greek olives.
Greek olives.

In addition to being used for eating in their original form, Greek olives are also widely used in the production of the world’s supply of olive oil. The oil is extracted from the olives and is a form of monounsaturated fat, which is generally considered to be a healthier option than saturated fats, such as butter or lard. Saturated fats are derived from animal products and are thought to raise levels of cholesterol, which can lead to heart attacks. Olive oil is often used at room temperature, such as for salad dressings or dipping bread, or can be heated to cook food items.

Olive tree.
Olive tree.

One of the most widely used varieties of Greek olives are green olives, which are harvested and packaged before they are completely ripened. Specific green varieties include gaidoroelia, megara, and conservolea. Black olives are a variety of Greek olives that are ripened on the trees before being picked. Kalamata olives are large and black with a fruitier taste than the more bitter flavor of green olives, and tend to be one of the most widely consumed types throughout the world.

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Discussion Comments


Does anyone else love dipping their bread in olive oil? I do this all the time when I go out to Italian restaurants. It makes me wonder why it tastes so good with the bread. Maybe it's because the "flavors" of the bread and oil meld together. However, one thing I've noticed is that it has to be a certain type of bread. Olive oil doesn't taste good with any type.


This article has given me some great insight on Greek olives, and how they're prepared. From reading further into the article, and from viewing the unique images, one can easily assume that they're not your "average" olive. After all, they're used to make olive oil, which is quite expensive and is used in many high class dishes. Speaking of which, from reading even further, I guess this explains why olive oil is generally healthier, as the oil from the Greek olives is a form of monounsaturated fat.


I've never tried Greek olives. However, they sound delectable, and I'll be on the lookout for them the next time I go food shopping. Who knew that olives came in such variety?

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    • Greek olives.
      Greek olives.
    • Olive tree.
      Olive tree.
    • An olive grove.
      An olive grove.
    • An antipasti platter with Greek olives.
      By: Lsantilli
      An antipasti platter with Greek olives.
    • Black olives have been allowed to ripen on the tree.
      By: Subbotina Anna
      Black olives have been allowed to ripen on the tree.
    • Chopped Greek salad with feta, olives, and romaine lettuce.
      By: Denis Tabler
      Chopped Greek salad with feta, olives, and romaine lettuce.