Eating kalamata olives is a delicious way to boost your nutrient intake and add some flavor to your favorite recipes.
What are Kalamata Olives?
Kalamata olives are another form of black olives and are commonly cultivated in the Mediterranean region. These dark purple olives are typically jarred or canned in olive oil and are considered fruits. Their taste is similar to other olives, with a briny and salty flavor, and meaty consistency. Kalamata olives may be high in sodium, but they are also a great source of monounsaturated fats and have certain key antioxidants that can be beneficial for health. They can last indefinitely when kept at room temperature.
Kalamata olives have been cultivated for about five thousand years now, which means the earliest cultivation happened around the Ancient Greek times. Despite the deep purple color, they are commonly known as ‘Greek black olives’.
Kalamata Olive Nutrition
In terms of nutrition, kalamata olives have a moderate amount of calories – roughly 40 calories per 10 olives – and low levels of protein and carbohydrates. These olives also possess a small amount of dietary fiber, about 1 gram per 10 olives, and good amounts of calcium, vitamin K, E, A, and vitamin C, as well as minerals like iron, potassium, and magnesium. These olives are also good sources of monounsaturated fats, with nearly 3 grams of these good fats in only 4 tablespoons of olives.
Kalamata Olive Benefits
The many benefits of kalamata olives include its ability to do the following:
- Prevent chronic diseases
- Reduce inflammation
- Optimize heart health
- Lower blood pressure
The good levels of vitamins, minerals, and monounsaturated fats can also optimize heart health and lower blood pressure, which protects you against coronary heart disease. As mentioned, kalamata olives possess phenolic compounds, which are antioxidants that can cut down on oxidative stress and lower levels of inflammation throughout the body. However, the high level of sodium in these olives means that you should only eat them in moderation.
Kalamata Olives vs Black Olives
Kalamata olives are a type of black olive, but not all black olives are kalamatas.
- Taste: The main difference comes in the taste, as nutritionally the two are quite similar.
- Size: Kalamata olives tend to be bigger and have a richer, less briny taste
- Sodium Content: Kalamata olives also have higher levels of sodium, which gives them a saltier bite.
- Color: In terms of color, the kalamata variety is dark purple.
How to Use?
These olives can be used in the daily diet by slicing them up into salads, as pizza toppings, or mashed into an olive tapenade. Most people eat these olives whole, provided they are pitted, or they mix them into pasta sauces for a flavorful burst.
Kalamata olives have a stone right in between the flesh of the fruit and they are generally not pitted beforehand. Fresh olives are incredibly bitter and therefore they have to undergo a process of debittering.
Let us look at the two methods of preparing kalamata olives.
- Long method: This method involves making a slit in each of the olives and storing them in 10% salt-water for fermentation. Usually, the debittering process takes about three months.
- Short method: In this method, kalamata olives involves are soaked in a weak brine or water, for a week at least that helps to debitter them. After this, you can pack the olives with brine, wine vinegar, olive oil, and slices of vinegar.