Olives are one of the most popular ingredients of the Mediterranean cuisine. You can often find them on vegetarian pizza, in a healthy Greek salad or in delicious tapas. Also to fish dishes and Geschmortem they fit perfectly. They are up to four centimeters long, oblong or round, black or green - and from the Mediterranean kitchen indispensable. They are also one of the oldest foods in the world.
Green and black olives
Green and black olives are not distinguished by their variety or origin, but by their degree of ripeness. Green olives are harvested earlier, but the black fruits are fully mature.
Green olives have a fruity, sour-spicy taste. Besides, they are stronger than their black sisters. These taste savory and slightly bitter. Raw olives are, however, not to be enjoyed because of their bitter substances and are therefore usually eaten in oil or brine.
Incidentally, the question of whether the tasty products of the olive tree to fruits or vegetables, can be answered very easily. Since olives grow on long-lived trees, they are considered fruit.
Olives are healthy nutrient packages
Olives are real nutrient bombs. They contain a lot of vitamins, minerals and valuable phytochemicals. The fruits are rich in:
- the minerals and trace elements phosphorus, calcium, sodium, iron, magnesium, zinc
- vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, E, folic acid and provitamin A (beta-carotene)
- phytochemicals such as polyphenols and sterols
Nutritional value of olives
The green, immature picked stone fruits have fewer calories and a lower content of important nutrients than black olives. However, for both maturity periods, they have very low levels of carbohydrates, only about 3 grams per 100 grams for green olives and 4.9 grams for black.
Black olives have up to 45 grams of fat per 100 grams and are thus more rich than the green fruits, which only have about 13.5 grams of fat. Nevertheless, their occasional consumption is recommended because the fatty acids of olives are among the monounsaturated fatty acids considered to be healthy.
By putting the olives in oil also increases their calorie content. Depending on how the olives are pickled, green olives produce about 130 kilocalories (kcal), blacks even 350 kilocalories or more.
Healthy effect of olives
Due to their valuable ingredients olives are said to have numerous beneficial effects on their health. So it is said, olives:
- act as a preventive measure against arteriosclerosis
- lower high blood pressure
- reduce LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL levels
- lower the heart attack risk
- stimulate the metabolism
- act against constipation
- are anti-inflammatory
- lower the risk of breast cancer
- stimulate the bile flow and relieve gallstones
- reduce wrinkles
- provide dry skin with moisture
Tips for eating olives
If you want to take full advantage of the many positive qualities of the healthy fruits of the Mediterranean, it is best to eat an average of seven olives a day - at least in Spain it is recommended by the "Society for Basic and Applied Nutrition Science".
In order to have as much of the valuable ingredients as possible, you should not over-heat olives or olive oil: when the smoke point is reached, the antioxidants (vitamin E and phenols) are destroyed.
In pregnancy, it is better not to eat olives. Since, as a buyer, one can not scrutinize the hygienic standards of the producers themselves, there is a risk of contracting a listeriosis infection during pregnancy. This is especially dangerous for unborn children.
Olives - a pleasure in every preparation
Commercially available olives are either in brine, olive oil or vinegar. As a result, they are longer lasting and no longer taste as bitter as freshly harvested fruits. To insert olives you also use citric acid and sea salt. In olive oil or vinegar pickled olives are often spiced with spicy herbs such as chili and garlic. In Spain, the green stoned olives are traditionally stuffed with red pepper pulp.
Olive paste is also a popular food. Called Tapenade in French Provence, it is made from pitted black olives. Other ingredients include anchovies, capers, garlic, olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. This is how the healthy olives can be spread on the bread.
Olive oil is obtained by pressing or centrifuging the stoned fruit and is the most popular edible fat, especially in the countries around the Mediterranean. The healthiest is the cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil, in which the valuable phytochemicals of the olives are still preserved. This can even be used to some extent for frying, as virgin olive oil has a fairly high smoke point (180 degrees). It is optimally suited for Spanish and Italian recipes.
Olive oil for the skin and hair
Olive oil and salt give off an excellent facial peel. Olive cream gives dry skin a lot of moisture and reduces wrinkles.
Even for hair care, you can use the versatile edible oil: just massage a few teaspoons of it into hair and scalp and leave it working for about two hours. Then wash it thoroughly.
The hair treatment eliminates split ends and frees the scalp from unpleasant dandruff. The olive oil covers every single hair like a protective film, keeps it from drying out and makes your hair shine. In addition, hair treatments with olive oil help to stop hair loss.
Buy and store olives
If you want to buy the hearty stone fruits, you will find them in vegetable shops as well as at the delicatessen counter in the supermarket. The black and green olives are available throughout the year in Germany. They are mostly inserted. There are also canned olives.
Fans of black fruits, but should look carefully when buying. Because not all black olives are actually harvested ripe. Occasionally also blackened green olives are sold. It is therefore advisable to look at the label beforehand: It lists E585 (ferrous lactate) or E579 (ferrous gluconate) or the words "blackened".
In order to obtain as pure a product as possible, no preservatives and flavor enhancers should be included. These are completely superfluous with airtight packed olives, as they are long-lasting anyway. Unopened olive preserves last for years. Even opened glasses or packs stay fresh in the fridge for months.
By the way: If you have to stone olives, the following trick is recommended. Place the fruits on a wooden board and press a second board vigorously from above onto the olives. These burst through and can then be freed from the stone with little effort.
Worth knowing about olive and olive tree
The fact that olives are not only healthy, but also a suitable beauty remedy, already knew the ancient Egyptians and the people of Greek and Roman antiquity. As archaeological finds from Apulia (Italy) prove, they were even in the Neolithic era a popular food. The Bible mentions the olive tree and its precious oil used in religious ceremonies. His solid wood was considered good timber.
Around the Mediterranean, more than 1, 000 different varieties of olive trees thrive. With a lifetime of several hundred years, the Mediterranean tree is considered one of the most durable plants on earth. The gnarled olive tree can grow up to 20 meters and is extremely undemanding. It flowers in the period from April to June. However, its fruits can only be harvested from the seventh year after planting. But he carries then annually from November to February at least 20 kilograms of fruit. Most of them are immediately processed into olive oil.
The olive tree fruits are still harvested manually in many places. To do this, spread nets under the trees and then carefully beat the black or green olives off the branches. Even more gentle is the collection of olives by hand. Wherever possible, vibrating machines are also used for harvesting. Four hours later, the fruits are processed. This keeps the healthy ingredients of the olives as well as possible.