Kalamata Olives

Kalamatas are intense – naturally cured in salt, vinegar, and spices – their flavor is at once fruity and sharp. Perhaps that’s why they are the most demanded olive in the world.

On trend in every major world market, the Kalamata Olive is favored in olive bars, in salads, on pizzas, in bread, or alone as a snack, garnish, or appetizer.   Kalamatas are almond-shape, curved, slender, and purples – beautiful and dark. Farming the Kalamata Olive started in and around the city of Kalamata hundreds of years ago. Today you can find Kalamata olives in most regions of Greece. Experts will tell you that Kalamatas can only be farmed in Greece (as the French will say about champagne). Kalamatas grown in other countries, called Kalamata-Style Olives, are similar but should not be mistaken for the Kalamata olive. Don’t be tempted; these low priced olives should be regarded with caution. If you want Kalamatas, ask for them by country of origin: Greek Kalamata Olives.

There are many stages in the life of a Kalamata Olive. From the bloom to the end user a Kalamata can be handled by as many as six different companies.  The color, flavor, and texture of a Kalamata Olive is highly dependent on when the olive is harvested. Ideally, the Kalamata will be light to deep purples. A Kalamata picked to soon is greenish, hard, and bitter. Picked too late the Kalamata is black, mushy, and oily. As a rule-of-thumb a package of olives should contain very few or zero olives that show shades of green (too young), a low percentage of olives showing some tan, mostly olives that are light to deep purple, very few olives that show some black, and zero olives that are all black (too mature).

 

Kalamata Olive Tapenade

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 cup pitted Kalamata olives

2 tablespoons capers

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Place the garlic cloves into a blender or food processor; pulse to mince.  Add the olives, capers, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Blend until everything is finely chopped.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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