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Nutritional Information

1 cup whole, olives

  • Calories 172
  • Calories from Fat 149.13
  • Amount%DV
  • Total Fat 16.57g25%
  • Saturated Fat 2.195g11%
  • Monounsaturated Fat 12.236g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 1.414g
  • Cholestreol 0mg0%
  • Sodium 1592mg66%
  • Potassium 26mg1%
  • Total Carbohydrate 7.94g3%
  • Dietary Fiber 4.6g18%
  • Sugars 0.24g
  • Protein 1.35g3%
  • Calcium 12mg1%
  • Iron 20mg111%
  • Vitamin A 0%
  • Vitamin C 2%

When In Season:

    California (Northern): January (early) - December (late)

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Olives on Wikipedia:

``Green olive`` redirects here. For the colour, see green-olive. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Olive. (Discuss) Kalamata olives

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.



Olives have been produced in Lebanon, Jordan and Israel/Palestine from prehistoric times. By 2000 BC, olive oil was being exported to Egypt and Phoenicia; records of the Mesopotamian Third dynasty of Ur empire (21st to 20th century BC), indicate olive oil as one of the exports from the region presently known as Syria[1]. Clearly some form of the olive press was in use by that time; descriptions of such presses are to be found in ancient Greece[2].

However, olives are not mentioned among items in the regular diet in ancient Mesopotamia [3]; possibly, only the oil was used primarily for grooming. The records of Assurnasirpal II (883-859 BC), mention olives being planted[4].

Olive production reached Asia Minor (present day Turkey) most likely around the middle of the first millennium BC. It reached the eastern shores of the Mediterranean subsequently. In first centuries of the Common Era, olive oil became a staple in the Roman diet.

Olives in Ancient Greece

Black & Green Olive

At the time of the Iliad (dated between the 6th to the 8th c. BC[5]), olive oil was a luxury import (there is no mention of cultivation), used by Patroclus for grooming after bathing. The Odyssey, composed in present-day Turkey possibly a century later, refers to the tree in the garden of Alcinous.

Some of the different varieties of black and green marinated olives sold by farmers and in shops

Tradition points to the limestone hills of Attica as the seat of its first cultivation on the Hellenic peninsula. One Greek myth attributes the founding of Athens to an olive tree that sprung from barren rock at the bidding of Athena, during her battle with Poseidon. Herodotus also tells of the magic property of statues carved from olive wood. A sacred tree of the goddess long stood on the Acropolis, and, though destroyed in the Persian invasion, sprouted again from the root.

By the time of Solon the olive had spread so much that he found it necessary to enact laws to regulate the cultivation of the tree in Attica. From here it gradually spread to all the Athenian allies and tributary states. Phoenician vessels may have taken olive cuttings to the Ionian coast, where it abounded in the time of Thales; the olives of the Sporades, Rhodes and Crete perhaps had a similar origin. Samos, if we may judge from the epithet of Aeschylus, must have had the plant long before the Persian Wars.

Olives became an emblem of wealth and plenty; the branches borne in the Panathenaea, the wild olive spray of the Olympic Games victor, the olive crown of the Roman Emperor, all signal its wide emblematic acceptance in ancient times.

Olives in Ancient Rome

Pliny describes fifteen varieties of olive cultivated in his day, the Licinian being most esteemed, and the oil of the Venafrum in Campania. The produce of Istria and Baetica was then regarded as second only to that of the Italian peninsula. Pickled olives, retaining their characteristic flavor, have been found among the buried stores of Pompeii. [6]


Olives being pickled Packaged olives, sold as an Italian snack food

Cultivation of the olive is an important part of the Mediterranean economy. Olive cultivation has been moving westward over the last three millennia, and today Spain is the world's largest producer of olives (36%) followed by Italy (25%)[7] and Greece (18%), and world production had crossed 2,594,500 tonnes (2,859,900 short tons) in 2008.[8]

The olive has also been planted in other regions such as Chile and Australia, but the primary production is almost entirely around the Mediterranean.


Gourmets from the Roman empire to the present day have valued the unripe fruit, steeped in brine, as challenging to the palate. The bitter juice deposited during pressing of the oil (called amurca), and the astringent leaves of the tree have many virtues attributed to them by ancient authors. Olive oil as a cooking medium emerged as an economical alternative to the butter and animal fats used elsewhere.

Olives are high in monounsaturated fat, iron, Vitamin E, and dietary fiber.[9] Naturally ripened purple/black appearing olives contain anthocyanins. This does not include artificially ripened ``black olives`` that are frequently canned and sent to grocery stores. There is also an effect that typical processing has on the quantity and type of anthocyanins contained in olives[vague][citation needed].

See also

Olive tree Olive oil Pimento


^ Nejat, Karen Rhea Nemet; (1998). Daily life in ancient Mesopotamia. Greenwood Publishing Group,. ISBN 0313294976.  p. 273 ^ Hodges, Henry; Judith Newcomer; (1992). Technology in the ancient world. Barnes & Noble Publishing,. ISBN 0313290880298936, 9780880298933.  ^ Handbook of Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, Stephen Bertman [Facts on File:New York NY] 2003 (p. 291-293): ``Curiously, two mainstays of the Mediterranean diet--olives and grapes...were seldom found in Mesopotamian cuisine``. ^ Stephanie Dalley Garden History, Vol. 21, No. 1. (Summer, 1993), pp. 1-13: ``I watered the meadows of the Tigris and planted orchards with all kinds ... seeds and plants that I had found in the countries through which I had marched and in the highlands which I had crossed: pines of different kinds, cypresses and junipers of different kinds, almonds, dates, ebony, rosewood, olive, oak, tamarisk, walnut, terebinth and ash, fir, pomegranate, pear, quince, fig, grapevine.`` ^ Vidal-Naquet, Pierre. Le monde d’Homère (The World of Homer), Perrin (2000), p.19 ^ Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed. Many of the classical references may be from that article. ^ ^ ``Olive oils: production`` (pdf). International Olive Oil Council. Retrieved 10 December 2009.  ^ The World's Healthiest Foods This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

External links

Look up olive in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Olive International Olive Oil Council Includes studies on health benefits The history and gastronomy of the olive & olive oil in Spain Medical uses Fusano Olive Company - photos of an olive harvest Areolives - UK continental food importers