I’m not a big fan of olives. There’s something about the texture and the flavor that throws me off. I love to use olive oil when I cook, though, so I was interested in the process of olive growing and the creation of olive products. Did you know there are 260 varieties of olives that grow in Spain? We traveled to the Spanish towns that border the Mediterranean Sea to find out more about Spanish olives.

The first place we went to was owned by a gentleman named Miguel. He said almost all of the places we would visit harvested Manzanilla olives. He said these are the most popular olives in the United States, but they’re not very good for making olive oil. Miguel also said he and his small team hand pick the olives once they are ripe. The best time to pick them is between September and November. I asked him why they didn’t use a machine to pick the olives, but he said they bruise easily, so hand-picking helps to avoid bruising. After a few people sampled Miguel’s olives, we left there to go to the next place.

spanish-olives

Our second stop on the olive tour took us to a large tree farm owned by the Salazar family. The mom and dad are retired, and their four children, Rebeca, Maria, Berta, and Javier are the ones keeping the place running. Like Miguel told us, the Salazar family also harvested Manzanilla olives, but their specialty was Arbequina olives. These are the best for making olive oil and olive oil soap, their specialty. I’ve never heard of olive oil soap, but I used it for the first time when I washed my hands after using the restroom. It was light and it didn’t leave any kind of residue like most other soaps. I bought a bar from them before I left. The Salazars gave out more olive samples, which I declined.

olives-plantation-in-malaga-spain

I was glad to learn all about olives. It was pretty cool. The last stop we made for the day was at the largest of the farms we’d seen. It was ENORMOUS. They harvested Manzanilla, Arbequina, Empeltre, Queen, and like 100 more types of olives. They really didn’t want us to go through the grounds of the farm, but there was an olive buffet in our meeting room. The guide talked about the olives for a little while. There were black, brown, green, orange, purple, and red. Some were hollow and others were stuffed with anchovies, bacon, chorizo, cream cheese, jalapeño, red pepper, and much more. I still didn’t want to try any, but I asked the others to describe the taste. I told them to describe the olives in one word and some of the adjectives I got were meaty, nutty, salty, and sweet. Finally, I broke down and tried one. One word, Ewwww!!! I spit it out and gave everyone a good laugh. They say it’s an acquired taste. Let’s hope I acquire it much later in life, because right now it’s gross.

Activities:

  1. What types of olives are mentioned in the text?
  2. Finish the sentence: Olives can be stuffed with…
  3. Watch the following video about olive oil https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-i8lLyerZ1w. What are some benefits of this product?