When I think of olives, I think of a gorgeous sunny day and a lovely Greek salad. Perhaps it’s because I am married to a Greek husband and we always have Greek salad with BBQ. Olives also remind me of my mum’s delicious salads and tapas in a vibrant Spanish restaurant. Yum!
Spain and olives share a rich history and in fact Spain remains the world’s top producer of the table olives. Spain has a long tradition when it comes to growing olive trees and harvesting their fruit, which is why olives are one of the most traditional and important foods in the Mediterranean diet and play a central role in the country’s gastronomic heritage.
This history combined with the warm Spanish climate, short winters and suitable soils make Spanish olives the most delicious in the world. Throughout Spain these delicious olives are traditionally enjoyed by the whole family, including children who begin eating the fruit at an early age.
My little boy’s first food was olives. I remember going to a wedding when he started eating solids and he ate a whole dish of olives on his own. Everyone was quite impressed that he knew he shouldn’t eat the stones and would put them on the side. He still loves olives.
It is Spain’s geographical location that is key to its success in producing some of the world’s most delicious olives. The country’s Mediterranean climate and soil structure is perfect for growing and ripening olives.
I was sent Tesco Pitted Green Olives in Brine (RRP 0.79), gorgeous green olives, very tasty and perfect for salads and Waitrose Obregon Queen Olives in Brine (RRP 2.19), slow matured spanish olives, soft textured and full flavoured vintage olives aged for flavour.
Olives are often recognised in two popular forms, green and black. The colour of an olive doesn’t signify its variety but rather its level of ripeness at the stage when it is plucked from the olive tree. Spain is known for producing a vast array of olives – over 60 types in total – so whether whole, pitted, stuffed, marinated or sliced and diced there is sure to be a Spanish olive perfect for you!
Some popular types of stuffings and seasonings for Spanish olives include: garlic, anchovies, pimento or red pepper, almonds and cheese. I love olives stuffed with red pepper, it looks gorgeous and tastes even better.
Olives are an essential component of Spain’s Mediterranean diet. Not only are they good to eat but they have excellent nutritional qualities, are very easy to digest because of their fibre content and contain a good proportion of minerals.
Olives promote good health because they contain: Monounsaturated Fats, Vitamin E, Antioxidants,
Fibre, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Iodine and Oleic acid. With an average of only 150 calories to every 100g serving, olives are fast becoming a healthy and tasty alternative to crisps, nuts and other savoury snacks.
Eating seven olives a day (25g) is the recommended daily intake. This can be increased or decreased depending on your lifestyle and health. Check out our seven reasons why seven olives a day can make a big difference.
- Low in calories: 25 grams of olives contain 37 kcal.
- Great source of fibre: 100 grams of olives contain 2.6 grams of fibre.
- Antioxidants and minerals: Olives boast a high amount of polyphenols, calcium and magnesium, all essential for healthy body function.
- Healthy fat: The oleic acid found inside olives is important for a varied and balanced diet.
- Gastronomy: As an essential ingredient of Mediterranean cuisine, olives are a key part of Spanish food culture.
- Versatile: Olives are nutritious and bring flavour and colour to dishes, making them an excellent ingredient for any recipe.
- Preservation: Spanish olives are easy to preserve at home and are always ready to be consumed.
Olives from Spain are easy to find, they are available at major supermarkets nationally, and in delicatessen and speciality food shops. When buying olives check the labelling to ensure you are getting true Olives from Spain. The label will be marked ‘Product of Spain’ and will sometimes name the region of Spain where the olives were grown.
How do you like your olives? In a salad or as a snack? There are lovely olive recipes at Olives from Spain such as Braised Andalusia chicken in Spanish olive sauce, Spanish tortilla with Spanish olives and chorizo and even Chocolate and Spanish olive truffles.