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Feb 14, 2010 05:42 AM

Need an Olive Tutorial

Though I am a fairly experienced cook - I am woefully uneducated on the subject of olives. I think I generally like them but don't buy them or cook with them really because I don't know enough about the different kinds out there. I wonder about the quality of olives at the olive bar in the store - are those typically good olives or is it better to buy them in jars? Sometimes I think there are so many choices I just don't go there. Good recipes with olives?

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  1. Good starting point for all things food - including substitutions......

    1. Olives are divine. In general, the ones you see at olive bars have not been pasteurized, whereas the ones in jars obviously have been. Therefore, the ones at olive bars should have better flavor, but may present problems. Depending on the turnover and how well they are tended to, there may be degradation in quality. Ask to taste them. If they are mushy, stay away. I always have some bottled olives on hand for a last minute tapenade, unexpected guests, etc. Divina brand is my go-to. Check out their green olives stuffed with a clove of marinated garlic. Just make sure everyone in the room eats one!

      FYI, although some people debate that olives taste better when left with their pits, know that pits account for 50 percent of their weight. If you are going to pit them anyway for cooking purposes, it is more cost effective to buy them already pitted.

      For starters, here are some of my favorites:
      Alfonsos -- huge, usually wine brined, plump and delicious
      Kalamatas -- almond shaped, beloved by Greece and just about everyone
      Manzanilla -- small green, nice mild flavor
      Salt cured Moroccan -- meaty and especially savory

      Have fun.