Quiz time: Is an olive a vegetable or fruit?
It sort of looks like a fruit but it tastes more like a vegetable. So yes it is one of those foods that is a bit of an anomaly. It is a fruit in the same sense that a tomato is a fruit.
Olives are famed for their bitter taste and as an excellent accompaniment for many other dishes. This is especially true in Spanish food. It is little surprise then to learn that 45% of the worlds olive supply is, in fact, Spanish olives.
Not all olives are equal when it comes to eating them or making oil from them. In fact, there are more than 200 varieties of olives grown in Spain. And each variety has its own unique flavor and aroma. What you need is this quick guide on the best Spanish olives.
Don’t Beat About the Bush
With hundreds of varieties and a multitude of places growing fabulous Spanish olives, it is possible to write a very lengthy guide indeed. However, this is not an olive dictionary.
If you are talking about Spanish olives you have to go to the heart of Spanish olive growing, in the area of Jaén in Andulacia. In fact, the secret is out and this beautiful area of Spain is fast developing in ‘olive oil tourism.’
This area of Spain is responsible for producing as much as 40% of the countries output and about a fifth of the world’s production.
Picual, Marteña, and Lopereña Spanish Olives
This already sounds very exotic. But Picual, Marteña and Lopereña olives are basically the same thing. It is the variety that is most commonly used in this area of Spain to make olive oil. In fact, Picual trees are estimated to account for nearly 25% of all olive oil production in the world.
It grows in beautiful hilly and mountainous areas and is able to cope with colder weather. Picual olives are well suited to produce olive oil as it is a very juicy and fruity olive. It is very beneficial for health and full of antioxidants.
The only downside is that it is best consumed fresh. The quality can diminish over time and so it is best to only buy what you need.
Spanish Olives – Manzanilla
You can’t talk about Spanish olives without mentioning manzanilla olives. They are referred to as the “Spanish olive” by many and without a doubt the most popular of all the Spanish olives types. The name “manzanilla” means “small apple” in Spanish, which describes their appearance. It is excellently suited to eating as it has a fairly meaty olive in comparison to other varieties.
Spanish Manzanilla olives have a small pit that are easily removed, allowing the meaty flesh to be stuffed with other fillings. Some of the more popular stuffed manzanilla olives are pimento peppers, blue cheese, anchovies, jamón ibérico, salmon and garlic.
The olive’s flavor has been described as nutty and sometimes tangy. It goes very well with olive oil and fresh herbs. Manzanilla makes for an excellent complement to other dishes.
Casablanca? No, Hojiblanca
Hojiblanca olives are native to Andalusia where they grow throughout the southern part of Spain. This type of olive is quite large and spherical in shape. It’s name is derived from the white color of the underside of it’s leaf. It has thicker skin than other varieties of olives and that means it is suited to cooking over a longer period such as in a stew or can be used to great effect in marinades.
Alternatively, you can just tuck in as a starter as they are becoming more and more frequently consumed as a table olive in Spain. Hojiblanca olives have a distinct aroma of fresh cut grass and apples. The flavor is spicy and sharp. Make sure you match it to the right drink and you will be everyone’s best friend at your next dinner party.
Mouth Watering Spanish Olives
In this article, you have read about some of the best Spanish Olives. Of course, the beauty of olives is that there are so many varieties there will always be a new taste waiting for your palate.
Check out our 21 Delicious Spanish Foods to Die For and continue to explore new and delicious Spanish foods waiting to be discovered. Then if you would like to taste for yourself, shop at our Spanish food section for the best Spain has to offer.
If you have questions you can get in touch, or learn more about who we are and what we do here.
Our blog is all about sharing our love of Latin American foods & drinks. We will bring you articles and recipes of the very best Latin American & Spanish cuisine. Amigofoods was founded in 2003 and is the largest online grocery store offering a wide variety of hard to find freshly imported foods & drinks from all over Latin America and Spain.