Interesting facts about olives

Interesting facts about olives

Interesting facts about olives

We’ve been eating them on our pizza, using their oils to help us cook, washing with soap made from them, treating our hair with beauty products that use them, but I’m willing to bet there is a lot you don’t actually know about the humble olive.  Below are some interesting facts about olives to help you win that bar bet or next trivia question.

  • Olives are a fruit, not a veggie
    • Olives are formed in the flower of the Olive tree so is a fruit, the same as a plum or a cherry.  Olives picked right off the tree are extremely bitter and should not be eaten until processed, but regardless of the lack of the sweet taste, the olive is indeed a fruit.  The olive pit is actually a seed and would grow into an olive tree if planted and nurtured.
  • Olive trees can live for thousands of years
    • The average lifespan seems to be between 300-600 years.  One tree on Crete is over 4,000 years old and still produces olives.  Olive trees have been around for 20-40 million years!
  • Olive trees grow great in poor soil and dry conditions and can grow as tall as 50 feet
  • Olive trees take their time becoming fruitful, blooming after 4 years and producing fruit after 15
  • Olive trees create enormous amounts of olive oil
  • Olives symbolize hope for a peaceful future (Noah’s bird brought back an olive branch)
  • Olive maturity is what determines the color.  Green is unripe while dark purple or black is ripe
  • Olives are not eaten straight off the tree. They are processed with brine before eating.  Bite into an olive pulled fresh from the tree and you are will experience one of the more bitter tastes you’ve ever experienced.
  • Olives are turned into olive oil 90% of the time.  Only 10% make it as olives.
  • Olive are a rich source of oils, minerals, and vitamins A, E, K and B.
  • Olives can improve your skin either by eating them or using lotions/creams made of olives.  Olive contain oleic acid which keeps your skin soft and healthy as well as vitamin E which is a well known anti-oxidant.
  • Light olive oil and regular (non-light) olive oil have the same calories (120 calories per tablespoon).  The term “light” here refers to the taste, not the calorie count
  • There is no cholesterol in olive oil
  • You can refrigerate olive oil without harming it. It will become cloudy and solidify but will restore itself when brought back to room temperature
  • The average United States citizen consumes less than one liter of olive oil per year.  By contrast, the average Greek citizen consumes more than 30
  • The four grades of olive oil, from highest to lowest rated are Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Virgin Olive Oil, Pure Olive Oil, and Olive Pomace Oil
  • Ancient farmers believed olive trees would not grow if planted past a certain distance from the sea
  • The largest type of olive is referred to as a Donkey Olive while the smallest is referred to as a Bullet Olive
  • In ancient Greece, one of the earliest known eye shadows consisted of charcoal and olive oil
  • Although mechanic methods exist to pick olives, most are still picked by hand to prevent bruising and to ensure the correct maturity of the olive is collected.  Green early in the year, darker colors later in the harvesting season
  • Olive oil is one of only two oils that can be eaten unprocessed (the other is sesame oil). All other oils require processing and have chemicals added to improve shelf life.

 

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