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Green vs Black: Which Olives To Choose?

Green and black olives like any other food differ not only in color, otherwise we wouldn’t pay special attention to this.

Green and black olives have different taste and nutritional properties so it makes sense to dwell on this.

So, what is the difference?

Green olives Halkidiki

Green olives are olives that are harvested when they are just beginning
to ripen, usually from late September to late October.



Black olives are the fully ripe fruits of the olive tree. Yes, recently they were green. 

Actually the words "black olives" are not correct and have no more sense than "white wine".

In fact, the color of ripe olives ranges from light brown to deep purple.

There are no completely black olives in nature and you will not find them on a single olive tree. The only exception is sun-dried olives from the Greek island of Thassos.

Absolutely black olives are green olives that have been colored and poisoned with iron gluconate E579.
The most ingenious manufacturers do it to sell olives faster than they ripen and to sell more. They understand that the faster they harvest the less they lose.

Let's look at the main differences between black and green olives in several ways, such as their taste, nutritional value, health benefit and use in various dishes. 


The Nutrition Properties Of Green And Black Olives. 

The nutritional value of black and green olives differ significantly.
Green olives are higher in polyphenols - antioxidants that are great for fighting cancer cells. Antioxidants are also good at cleansing blood vessels and lowering the level of bad cholesterol in the blood.

However, green olives contain twice as much sodium as black olives.
This is not good if you have high blood pressure.
It should be remembered that the daily intake of this substance is 1500 mg and it is all contained in 100 g of green olives.

Black olives contain less polyphenols and vitamin E, but are very high in polyunsaturated fats.
Also, black olives are rich in iron (6,28 mg / 100g) while the daily intake of iron is approximately 15 mg.

In the table below you’ll find all the nutrient data of green and black olives: 

Nutrients, per 100 g.

Black Olives

Green Olives


0,84 g

1,03 g


10,9 g

15,32 g


6,04 g

3,84 g


1,6 g

3,3 g


88 mg

52 mg


6,28 mg

0,49 mg


4 mg

11 mg


8 mg

42 mg


735 mg

1556 mg


0,22 mg

0,04 mg


0,25 mg

0,12 mg

Vitamin C

0,9 mg


Vitamin B6

0,01 mg

0,03 mg

Vitamin A

17 µg (micrograms)

20 µg (micrograms)

Vitamin E

1,65 mg

3,81 mg

Vitamin K

1,4 µg (micrograms)

1,4 µg (micrograms)

Based on the above characteristics we can conclude that both types are equally useful.
The only difference is what kind of effect should be expected from each variety. 


How Do Different Olives Taste And How We Use Them? 

The flavour of green and black olives is very different due to the difference in their texture and consistency.
It is clear that it is rather difficult to describe the detailed differences, since there are about 700 types of olives in the world.

Let's just say that green olives are harder and have more natural bitterness, which is difficult to completely remove by soaking in a salt solution.
Unlike black olives, green olives retain their natural flavor and harsh texture.

Black olives taste softer, juicier and more oily.
The taste of black olives changes depending on the processing method since they easily absorb the taste of the environment they are in. Usually it is salty, spicy or savory.

The taste of food is the main criterion when we decide how to use it.
The main but not the only.
For example, it is believed that in a traditional Greek salad there should be only Kalamata and other olives have no place there.

When it comes to the flavor of olives, the soft and juicy black olives are very suitable for making pesto and all sorts of pâtés.

There is no point in listing various meals so we can just place here some links to olive recipes. 


Traditional mediterranean bread with olives

Black olives, especially sun-dried olives Thassos Throumpa,
are also commonly used for baking bread or pizza. 


Due to their ripe and rich flavour, black olives are the perfect accompaniment to soups and meat or vegetable stews. 

Green olives are good for light summer salads
Another common use is as an aperitif snack. 
For example, green olives Halkidiki go well with wine and of course it's worth trying them at Dirty Martini.  

Both black and green olives go well on their own without being involved in other dishes. Place them on a plate, drizzle with olive oil and lemon and sprinkle with dried oregano, just like this: 







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