Many people love olives. They are added to salads, pasta dishes or simply eaten as a snack. They are available in different versions: with different marinades, spices, fillings, varieties or colors. However, color rarely has anything to do with the variety of olives, but rather with their degree of ripeness. And so there are green olives and black. But there is a third type – and in Germany it is sold as black olives. However, they do not occur in nature.
Most olives are green at first and then turn black
Because olives are green at the beginning of the natural ripening process. When ripening, they first turn purple and then brown or black. But not only the color of olives changes, but also the taste, consistency and even the nutrients they contain.
Although green olives are often still very crunchy, they become softer as they ripen. In addition, the initially bitter taste becomes softer, but wider and more intense. While unripe green olives are higher in calcium and magnesium, ripe black olives are surprisingly high in fat. What sounds contradictory at first is easy to explain. Because the fat in olives consists mostly of monounsaturated fatty acids, which have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system.
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What about black olives? These are usually unripe green olives that have turned black from oxidation. The color is often much blacker than natural black olives and is caused by iron gluconate or iron lactate. Therefore, black olives are often much crispier than natural olives because they have not yet reached the proper degree of ripeness.
Blackened olives: how to spot them when buying
The problem: In Germany, food producers are not required to explicitly state that they are black olives, unless they are bought in grocers. However, it is often easy to recognize: if, for example, olives in a jar look very uniformly black, and the skin is very smooth, there are many indications that these are simply dyed young olives.
The stone can also provide information: blackened olives also turn black, while ripe, dark olives remain green. A look at the list of ingredients can also help: because the colors iron (II) lactate (E585) and iron (II) gluconate (E579) should be listed here.
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The reason that black olives are constantly entering the trade is also the desire of the producers for profit. Olives simply stand on the tree for a long time to turn black. In addition, it is more difficult to harvest soft fruits than crunchy green olives. Therefore, they are partially harvested green, and then dyed. By the way, this does not make them really unhealthy. But you should know what you are bringing home with you – a deceptive little package.