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Types Of Olives

Updated on December 1, 2010

Although there is a large variety of olives that is cultivated and sold in the market, there are mainly two types of olives; black and green olives. The rest are the further varieties of the two types.

Both the types of olives grow on the same tree known as the olive trees in fact the black olives start out as the green ones. The difference between the olives is that the black olives are the ripened olives while the green ones are raw. Black olives are less bitter as the olives lose their bitterness as they ripen further.

Both the types of olives are subjected to brining after they are plucked from their trees but the green olives are soaked in a lye solution before that whereas the black olives being more ripened are put straight into brining.

Black olives also have more oil in them than the green olives. Green olives are usually found pitted as their seeds are removed before being sold and can be filled with different fillings.

The different varieties and flavors of olives depend on when these olives were picked and how were they treated after being picked. Below given are some varieties of green and black olives:

Different Varieties Of Black Olives

There is a large variety of black olives available. Given are just few of them.

Kalamata Olives in a recipe.
Kalamata Olives in a recipe.

Kalamata Olives

Kalamata olives are Greek variety of black olives. They are harvested when they are fully ripened and are deep purple in color and are almond shaped. After brining they obtain a rich and a fruity flavor.

Niçoise Olives

These olives are a French variety of black olives and are much smaller in size than the Kalamata olives. They too are harvested when fully ripened and are packed with herbs and their stems which are kept intact. They have a rich, mellow and a nutty flavor.

Ligurian Olives
Ligurian Olives
Green olives
Green olives


Liguria olives are Italian black olives famous for their vibrant flavor. They are brined with a lot of salt and are packed along with their stems, just like the Niçoise olives.


They are Italian and just like the ligurian olives, are brined with salt. But they are not as vibrant and strong in flavor as the ligurian ones instead they are mild in flavor. They are packed with vinegar without stems.


Gaeta olives are also an Italian variety of black olives. They are brined with dry salt and then rubbed with oil. They are small in size and have a wrinkled appearance. They have a mild flavor and are packed with rosemary and other herbs.


Yet another Italian variety of black olives Lugano olives are a popular variety of olives known for their extremely salted flavor. They are packed with olive leaves and some other herbs.


Sevillano black olives are cultivated in California. They are preserved with lactic acid and have a strong flavor. They are very crisp unlike the other varieties of black olives.

Different Varieties Of Green Olives

As compared to the black olives the green olives have lesser varieties. Since they are bitter than the black olives they are cured much more after being picked from their trees. Below are some of the varieties of green olives:


Manzanilla is a Spanish variety of green olives. They are either available unpitted, i.e. with seeds or they are sold pitted and stuffed. After being brined they are lightly cured with lye. They are packed with citric acid and lactic acid. They have salty and a bit spicy flavor.

Picholine olive
Picholine olive
Sicilian olives
Sicilian olives


Picholine is a French variety of green olives. They are brined with salt after being picked and then are preserved in citric acid. They have a subtle, light and a mild salty flavor.

Spanish Style Green Olives

These olives are probably one of the most famous green olive varieties of the world.

After they are brined these olives are fermented in an acid solution packed with 8% salt brine for 4-6 months. They have a very strong and salty flavor with a unique touch that sets them apart.

Sicilian Style Olives

Sicilian green olives are medium sized olives famous for their crisp and salty flavor. They are brined with salt and are preserved in lactic acid. They are usually pitted and filled with stuffings.


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    • profile image

      Anup 6 years ago

      Olea europea tree is the name of the olive tree....

    • hassam profile image

      hassam 7 years ago from Pakistan


      Well its "ripened". Thanks for pointing it out! :) Will make both the corrections.

    • eventsyoudesign profile image

      eventsyoudesign 7 years ago from Nashville, Tennessee

      Good article. I enjoyed reading it. Just two comments. The first , "What does ripped mean?". The second, when you talk about Ponentine olives you confused them with Ligunia olives, but I know what you are saying. Loved the article though. Very interesting and so many types of olives. I love them. Thanks for sharing. Teresa

    • hassam profile image

      hassam 7 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks! :) Well there are a lot more!

    • creativelycc profile image

      Carrie L. Cronkite 7 years ago from Maine

      Great hub with excellent pictures. I love olives, I didn't realize that there were so many different varieties of olives.