We don’t pasteurise or sterilise our olives. In short we don’t heat them up to enable them to sit on a shelf in a shop. They have to be chilled and they have to be looked after. If you heat treat olives (like any food) you are in effect, par-cooking them. Pasteurising usually peaks at around 85C, whilst sterilising is well over 100C. It means you lose flavour and lose texture and neither are desirable.
When we produce a marinated olive, we mix all the ingredients by hand. We do this because we’ve never found a machine that can mix as well as a human being in arm length gloves. A human can see when herbs clump together and break them up, their hands are also soft so they don’t damage the olives as they move them around. The same can’t be said of metal machinery.
Grown in the Belice valley on the rocky island of Sicily, Nocellara del Belice are so named after the Belice valley in which they have to grow in order to gain the name and PDO status. They are processed (not a romantic name I know) using a technique called the “Castelvetrano” technique. This does not involve any fermentation, only removal of the bitterness. This means the carbohydrates (sugars) that the bacteria normally consume are left in the olive. When this is combined with their not inconsiderable olive oil content, it gives the olives their characteristic buttery/creamy flavour.
Colour: Quite often a vivid green
Texture: skin breaks easily but flesh is quite firm
Taste: somewhere between creamy or buttery. Hints of avocado
Back when the olives were being driven from the south of France by George or Adam, this mix went by the name of Bosciaola, which loosely translates as “woodland”. With a few recipe tweaks over the years, and to reflect its Italian heritage it was re-named Vinci, after somebody called Leonardo! The mushrooms keep that woodland theme going along with red peppers, garlic, herbs de provence and paprika oil though curiously we have always used Greek Chalkidiki olives (queen Green) and nobody has ever complained. It’s still a really popular mix after 30 years and has a really approachable herby-ness, the garlic is not overpowering and the pitted olives have that perfect balance of acidity, texture and classic big green olive flavour!
Colour: Olive or hay green olives
Texture: Excellent firm bite and flesh
Taste: Classic olive flavour combined with the vinegar, herbs and garlic
If you look up Harlequin, it is partially defined as “a combination of patches on a solid ground of contrasting colour” which pretty much describes the olive mix. A blend of Chalkidiki (queen green) olives, Kalamata olives, red peppers, cracked black pepper, herbs de Provence and garlic. It’s a very colourful mix that packs a lovely punch from the black pepper, whilst the grape vinegar gives it a gentle acidity.
Colour: Chalkidiki olive or hay green. Kalamata lovely deep purple
Texture: Chalkidiki excellent firm bite and flesh. Kalamata much softer flesh with medium resistance
Taste: Chalkidiki Classic olive flavour whilst Kalamata has its own fruity, acidic taste with the skin always being slightly bitter
Grown on the Pelopenese Peninsula in the Kalamata region of Greece. These enduringly popular olives take their name from the area in which they grow, and they bring some of the flavour of that country with them. Kalamata olives (part of the Kalamon varietal family) are a PDO product, meaning they have a protected status in the EU. Part of this status means they have to be grown in the kalamata area, they have to be processed in that area and they have to use a specific method to create them. Part of that method is they are soaked in red wine vinegar, which gives them their particular fruity/acidic flavour.
Colour: Distinctive deep purple, often with lighter freckles. Colour can vary.
Texture: Skin has resistance to bite but flesh is generally soft
Taste: Stone fruit hints and winey from the vinegar they are soaked in. Skin has residual bitterness