Table olives are used to greatly enhance both the presentation of the dish and to give it a deeper flavor.
Unknown to many, there are actually two types of table olives that are being sold; Greek olives and Spanish olives (and a few more, but they are virtually unknown).
We get asked from customers what are the best olives amongst those that you can find in the market – Greek or Spanish? So lets answer this question.
The most popular among the two are the Greek olives. These olives are cured by submerging the olive fruits in brine and then allowing them to soak for a week or more. The brine is then changed regularly to remove the compounds which make the olive fruit bitter. Because of how Greek olives are treated, there are cases where the important lactic acids inside them are overpowered by the natural yeast inside the olives. During these instances, more lactic acid (or in some cases other types of natural acid like citric acid) is used to counteract the yeast. Once the fermenting process is done, the olives are removed from the brine and preserved in either vinegar or olive oil.
The other type of table olives is Spanish olives. These are prepared similarly to Greek olives in terms of the fermentation process, but with a few additional processes. The first step is to soak the olive fruits in an alkaline substance called lye to remove the bitter taste. After leaving them to soak in the lye for some time, the fruits are then washed several times with water and then submerged in brine and allowed to ferment further. Once the olives are done fermenting, they are preserved in brine to be sold.
The preparation method can be shorter with Spanish olives than Greek olives since it will only take a few days for them to ferment and become more palatable. Spanish olives make up 60% of the table olives sold worldwide, but the choice among those who use olives for cooking are still the Greek olives because of their unique flavour and the natural methods used to be prepared.