Greek Olive Varieties

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  • 01 of 07

    Small Cretan Green Olives

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    The Greek word for olives is elies, ελιές, pronounced el-YES. Cretan Greek olives are called elitses (meaning tiny olives), ελίτσες, pronounced el-EET-sess. The formal name is koroneiki.

    Crete is famous for these tiny olives, which are also cultivated in Messinia and Zakynthos. Despite their size, they are packed with oil and are the source of some of the world's best olive oil. When green, small quantities are harvested as table olives. When black and ripe (December, January, and sometimes...MORE February) they are almost exclusively harvested for the production of olive oil. Most of the table olives are consumed in Greece, never reaching western markets, and the olive oil, famous the world over, is consumed in Greece and exported.

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  • 02 of 07

    Halkithiki Green Olives

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    These olives are harvested in October and are grown solely on the Halkithiki peninsula.

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  • 03 of 07

    Stuffed Green Olives

    Green olives from Nafplion are harvested at the beginning of the season in October.

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  • 04 of 07

    Kalamata Red Olives

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    Also known as "pink" olives, these are harvested in November.

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  • 05 of 07

    Plum Olives

    These are very large olives harvested in November.

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  • 06 of 07

    Kalamata Black Olives

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    Probably the most well-known Greek olive, these are harvested in December when fully ripened. The best Kalamata olives are sliced then cured in a red-wine vinegar brine.

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  • 07 of 07

    Wrinkled Black Olives

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    In Greek, wrinkled black olives are the throubes variety (θρούμπες), pronounced THROO-bess.

    Unlike olives that shrivel up after curing, these are fully mature olives that are not picked. They ripen and shrivel on the tree. Nets are placed under the trees and the olives fall off when fully ripe. The wrinkling is their natural state. They are the only olives that can be eaten directly from the tree but are dry cured for commercial use.

    Most throubes come from the Greek island of Thassos. Favorite...MORE ways to serve them are with patatosalata (Greek potato salad), or drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano. They are meaty with a strong olive taste and are not used to make olive oil.