With the recent uproar over counterfeit EVOO, consumers are now educating themselves more and more on how to buy and recognize good quality olive oil. While the table olive hasn’t had much skepticism surrounding the quality, there are certain factors to look for when purchasing olives to ensure you are buying and eating the best.
Here are 5 factors to look out for when buying table olives:
Olives that have been cured properly will have a clean aroma. An off-fermentation will be noticeable on the nose, and any off-odour is totally unacceptable in quality table olives.
Generally we tend to avoid moldy foods as there are certain harmful toxins in some molds. Olives are susceptible to mold and mycotoxins, although they aren’t as big an issue in olives as they are in grains, chocolate, coffee, etc. best to look out for mold on olives as the taste will be affected. Buy olives that still have pits. Removing the pit during processing bruises the olive and makes it easier for molds to take over.
Taste is usually a subjective matter when it comes to food but as with olive oil, good quality olives can be recognized by their flavour. A well-fermented table olive should have a good balance between the natural flavour of the fruit, the natural lactic acid and the added salt and vinegar. Overly acidic olives are harsh on the taste buds and often mean that the acidity has not been created from the curing process but rather has been added after.
An olive should have a degree of firmness in the flesh, without being tough or woody. The skin of the fruit should not be too tough, and the flesh should detach from the pit quite readily. Olives should never be mushy or visibly bruised. If you’re shopping for olives at a store’s “olive bar,” look for olives dressed in brine, which helps them retain their moisture and flavor.
Of course it’s not always looks that count – except when it comes to olives. Table olives should not only taste good, but that look as good as possible, these two characteristics are not mutually exclusive. Check the skin of the olives if you can, and skip batches of olives with discolored or patchy skin. Ideally you want smooth, shiny olives without bruises or lacerations.
The flavours of table olives vary vastly, especially with different methods of curing but being aware of the above factors will give you a good idea of what an olive should look/feel/taste/smell like in order to buy the best quality.