Description: The Olive is the fruit of the Olive tree (Olea europaea) and is a major component of the agriculture and gastronomy along the Mediterranean both in Europe and North Africa, as well as in the Middle East. Gourmets from the Roman Empire to the present day have valued the unripe fruit, steeped in brine, as challenging to the palate. Olives are harvested in September but available year round to make a zesty addition to salads, meat and poultry dishes and, of course, pizza. Olives cannot be eaten right off of the tree; they require special processing to reduce their intrinsic bitterness. These processing methods vary with the olive variety, region where they are cultivated and the desired taste, texture and color. Some olives are picked green and unripe, while others are allowed to fully ripen on the tree to a black color.
Commonly used in: Spreads, dips, toppings, salads etc.
Health benefit: Among other things, olives are high in monounsaturated fat, iron, Vitamin E, and dietary fiber. Naturally ripened purple/black appearing olives contain anthocyanins. The anti-inflammatory actions of the monounsaturated fats, vitamin E and polyphenols in olives helps reduce the severity of asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, three conditions where most of the damage is caused by high levels of free radicals.