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Apr 6, 2008 11:12 AM

Olive experts, help!

I have very little olive knowledge, and strangely, Google is not helping much for once. My sister once brought back a container of olives for me from Napa Valley, and they were the yummiest things I've ever eaten. I've never liked olives because I thought they were too salty and strong-tasting. But these were nutty and buttery and wonderful. Light green in color, with seeds intact. What's the name for this type of olive, so I can buy them in vast quantities? I remember I couldn't walk past the fridge without popping one in my mouth...

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  1. It sounds like they are either picholines, manzanillas, or, most likely, the cadillac of olives -- luques (pronounced luke).

    I recommend going to Whole Foods and sampling things at their olive bar to see what matches.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Frommtron

      whenever i am faced with varieties of olives, i try to find "my" olive, but hate doing it because i have to put so many salty, un-tasty (to me) things in my mouth! but if it will help to end my quest, i guess i'll have to suck it up. thanks for the tip!

      1. re: Frommtron

        Maybe picholines. I agree Whole Foods is a good start for your search.

      2. How big were they? Picholines and Arbequinas are smaller, while green Cerignolas are quite large. Also- what shape? I know, olive shaped.. :p but I really like an Italian olive called Castelvetrano, and it's more round like a little ball than oblong.

        I agree with the other poster, Luques are dreamy good, but generally seasonal.

        2 Replies
        1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

          they were definitely not small, but i don't know if they were especially large, i'm just not familiar enough with olives. and not at all like a ball. thanks to you both, i'm going to look up luques now!

          1. re: esquimeaux

            I can't spell -- Lucques with a 'c'.

        2. Oh- I had another thought!

          Do you think they were a CA grown olive, or something sent from the Dean & Deluca in Napa- they have great olives, but knowing where she bought them would help immensely.

          1. Hi,

            There is actually almost 900 different varietals of Olives in the world but only 30 to 40 are commonly knows and used.

            From your description, if this "Whole Green Olives" grown in California, the most common used in this area are "Mission Olives" or "Manzanilla Olives",

            Otherwise it can be as follow :
            If the form is sharpen, it's probably a Picholine :
            Moroccan Picholine or French and/or Italian Lucque or Lucquoise (very expensive).

            If it's oval, it can be "Beldi" from Morocco, "Manzanilla" "Alberquina" from Spain.

            Then, the packaging make a difference! is it plastic tray/pail, cans?

            There is so many varietals that without more details, it's difficult to help you, so if you have some of these Olives left, the best thing to do will be to post a picture + details in reply here or by email to us at olives101 (at) gmail (dot) com.

            I hope it help.


            1. My suspicion is that you fell in love with the cure as much as the olives. If you grew up on and were used to California style canned olives, black or green, my guess is that that is your problem.

              Judging from the discussion threads you've particpated in as shown on your profile page, I would have to guess you live in the L.A. area. You should be able to find shops with huge assortments of fresh olives. Normally, you can sample your way through their entire inventory. Maybe you'll strike gold! Your sister is no help?