Greek Olives Kalamata
Kalamata is a medium-sized, asymmetrical, almond-shaped olive. When ripe, the fruit has a rich dark purple color and a soft juicy taste under its gentle olive skin.
In order not to damage this olive skin, olives are harvested from the tree only by hand. This makes Kalamata more expensive than many other olive varieties.
Kalamata olives grow only in warm climates and do not tolerate cold at all but at the same time, these olives are not attacked by the olive fly. For most olive varieties, the olive fly is a serious threat that can easily destroy up to half of the crop. Therefore, when buying Kalamata olives, you can be sure of their natural taste as they have not been treated with pesticides.
The olive harvesting season lasts from early October to late December. Olives of varying maturity are used for oil production. As for table olives, they are harvested either unripe, green or fully ripe, almost black.
It is customary to pick Kalamata olives from the tree by hand. This takes a lot of time but it does not damage their delicate structure. Before harvesting, a tarp is placed under the tree because the olives should not remain on the ground.
Not all of the harvested olives will be used for food or oil production. Part of the crop (rotten and damaged fruits) must be thrown away. However, they should not remain on the ground as rotting olives can cause soil and tree root diseases.
Kalamata olives are sometimes harvested slightly under-ripe, about 80-90% ripe, when they are turning from dark red to bright purple. During the preparation process, they gradually ripen and turn dark purple.
This was already written about in our previous articles but it won’t be superfluous to remind:
“Black” is a symbolic name, because absolutely black olives do not exist in nature (except sun-dried olives Thassos Throumpa). Ripening, the olives darken, getting various shades, from bright brown to deep purple. If you bought perfectly black olives then most likely they are artificially coloured green olives. Such olives are processed with caustic soda (sodium hydroxide, a very toxic substance)! And then colored with artificial color iron gluconate E579. They are less tasty and most of their nutrients are killed by this process. More about this.
Right after harvesting, the olives are washed and put in fresh water for 2-3 weeks, and the water is changed every week or more often. In order to make the olives edible, their bitterness should be removed and salt works best for this. Therefore, olives are kept in a brine for 3-4 months. After removing the bitterness, Kalamata olives are preserved with the addition of olive oil, vinegar, and various spices.
Olives are usually packed in small (up to 500 g) and large (1-3 kg) glass or plastic jars. Also, you can buy olives Kalamata packed in 5 - 9 kg metal cans.
Sometimes they can be found in vacuum packages, however, it's not the best solution because the fruits can be damaged during transportation. Floating freely in brine is preserved much better.
Kalamata or Kalamon? It Doesn't Matter Unless You Live in Kalamata City.
Only olives grown in the Greek province of Messenia can be called Kalamata because it is the name of the main city of this region and is Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).
Yes, Kalamata is the birthplace of these wonderful olives, for which we are so grateful to the inhabitants of this city. And as thanks we have to pay for Kalamata olives a little more than for exactly the same olives from neighboring provinces of the Peloponnese. So all olives of this variety, grown outside the province of Messenia, are called Kalamon.
By the way, this restriction is valid only within the European Union and if you find Kalamata olives produced somewhere in America or Australia, don’t worry, everything is legal. The punishing sword of Nemesis has not yet reached these remote corners of our planet.
Kalamon olives taste just as good as Kalamata olives, of course, if they were grown in a region with suitable climatic conditions and grown correctly.
Of course, there is no doubt that the people of Messenia have a different opinion. Most likely someone will even tell you that Homer (not Simpson!) mentioned olives from this place and believed they were the best in the world. However, even Kalamata city residents are unlikely to be able to distinguish the taste of their olives from olives of the same variety grown in neighboring Laconia or Arcadia.
Authentic Greek Salad: Fast and Simple.
Cucumber, tomato, green pepper, red onion, feta and Kalamata - that's all. Well, you can add something else but don't get carried away! If you spend more than 5 minutes, it's not a Greek salad.
Kalamata can be used in various dishes, in combination with other food, and simply as a snack for aperitifs. Kalamata olives are not a great idea for fried or stewed dishes but they will brighten up any tapas, canapes, or sandwiches. These olives are very good in summer salads with fresh vegetables. They can also be added cold to rice and beans.
Here is how to serve Kalamata olives:
- Wash the olives with cold water, then remove residual water with a paper towel.
- Sprinkle the olives with lemon juice, 1/4 lemon is enough.
- Pour extra virgin olive oil Aegean Gold Bio on the olives.
- Add some oregano or rosemary.
- Open dry white wine and start your aperitif.
The composition of Greek salad is simple and there are always only 6 ingredients:
1. Cucumbers, medium in size, with thin skin. The skin is not peeled off, the cucumbers are cut across.
2. Tomatoes. Medium size, no cherries, etc. Just normal tomatoes, cut into 4 pieces.
3. Green pepper. Only green, no other colors. Cut across, in rings.
4. Feta. Real, solid sheep feta. Several large pieces for a large bowl of salad. Feta does not need to be crumbled, everyone will figure it out on their own.
5. Medium red onions. Cut into rings or half rings.
6. And of course, absolutely irreplaceable ingredients of any real authentic Greek salad are Kalamata olives. Or Kalamon, as we recently found out. Only with stones. Pitted olives are dead olives.
That's all. No lettuce, icebergs, or other leaves. All ingredients are cut large, no need to grind. Besides, it's too tiring. All vegetables must be ripe and fresh. Plastic tomatoes will kill your Greek salad, so it's better not to try them at all.
Most of the olives are stored in brine. To remove some salt from the olives wash them with cold water. Even better if you have time to keep olives for a couple of hours in cold water, changing the water from time to time.
If the olives are salty enough then you don’t need to add salt to your salad. However, using salt helps extract juice from vegetables, which will mix with the other ingredients and make the salad taste more intense. We recommend you use Trikalinos sea salt. Soft and delicate crystals of this Aegean Sea salt dissolve very well even in cold dishes, emphasizing the taste of fresh vegetables.
Greek salad is dressed with mild Greek olive oil such as Aegean Gold. You don't have to season all the salad, but just put olive oil and vinegar in front of the guests, everyone will add them to taste.