Kalamata, the Most Popular Greek Olives.
Kalamata is a medium-sized, asymmetrical, almond-shaped olive.
When ripe, the fruit has a rich dark purple colour and a soft juicy taste under its gentle olive skin.
In order not to damage this olive skin, olives are harvested from the tree only by hand.
This makes Kalamata more expensive than many other olive varieties.
Kalamata olives grows only in warm climates and does not tolerate cold at all but at the same time these olives are practically of no interest to the olive fly.
For most olive varieties, the olive fly is a serious threat that can easily destroy up to half of the fruit.
Therefore, when buying Kalamata olives, you can be sure of their natural taste as they have not been treated with pesticides.
The olive harvesting season lasts from early October to late December.
Olives of varying maturity are used for oil production.
As for table olives, they are harvested either unripe, green, or fully ripe, almost black.
It is customary to pick Kalamata olives from the tree by hand.
This takes a lot of time but it does not damage their delicate structure.
Before harvesting, a tarp is placed under the tree because the olives should not remain on the ground.
Part of the crop (rotten and damaged fruits) must be thrown away.
However they should not remain on the ground as rotting olives can cause soil and tree root diseases.
Kalamata olives are sometimes harvested slightly under-ripe, about 80-90% ripe, when they are turning from dark red to bright purple.
During the preparation process, they gradually ripen and turn dark purple.
This was already written about in our previous articles but it won’t be superfluous to remind:
“Black” is a symbolic name, because absolutely black olives do not exist in nature (except sun-dried olives Thassos Throumpa). Ripening, the olives darken, getting various shades, from bright brown to deep purple.
If you bought perfectly black olives then most likely they are artificially coloured green olives. Such olives are processed with caustic soda (sodium hydroxide, very toxic substance)! And then coloured with artificial colour iron gluconate E579. They are less tasty and most of their nutrients are killed by this process. More about this.
Right after harvesting, the olives are washed and put in fresh water for 2-3 weeks, and the water is changed every week or more often.
In order to make the olives edible, their bitterness should be removed and salt works best for this.
Therefore, olives are kept in a brine for 3-4 months.
After removing the bitterness, Kalamata olives are preserved with the addition of olive oil, vinegar and various spices.
Olives are usually packed in small (up to 500 g) and large (1-3 kg) glass or plastic jars.
Also you can buy olives Kalamata packed in 5 - 9 kg metal cans.
Sometimes they can be found in vacuum packages, however it's not the best solution because the fruits can be damaged during transportation.
Floating freely in brine are preserved much better.
Kalamata or Kalamon? It's all the same unless you live in Kalamata city.
Only olives grown in the Greek province of Messenia can be called Kalamata because it is the name of main city of this region and is Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).
Yes, Kalamata is the birthplace of these wonderful olives, for which we are so grateful to the inhabitants of this city.
And as a thanks we have to pay for these olives a little more than for exactly the same olives from neighbouring provinces of the Peloponnese.
So all olives of this variety, grown outside the province of Messenia, are called Kalamon.
By the way, this restriction is valid only within the European Union.
So if you find Kalamata olives produced in America or Australia, don’t worry, everything is legal.
The punishing sword of Nemesis has not yet reached these remote corners of our planet.
Kalamon olives taste just as good as Kalamata olives, of course if they were grown in a region with suitable climatic conditions and grown correctly.
Of course, there is no doubt that the people of Messenia have a different opinion.
Most likely someone will even tell you that Homer (not Simpson!) mentioned olives from this place and believed they were the best.
However, even Kalamata city residents are unlikely to be able to distinguish the taste of their olives from olives of the same variety grown in neighbouring Laconia or Arcadia.
Kalamata olives and feta cheese... almost a Greek salad.
Well, you can add something else but don't get carried away! If you spend more than 5 minutes, it's not a Greek salad.
Kalamata like many other olives, can be used in various dishes, in combination with other food and simply as a snack for aperitifs.
Kalamata olives are not a great idea for fried or stewed dishes but they will brighten up any tapas, canapes or sandwich.
These olives are very good in summer salads with fresh vegetables.
They can also be added cold to rice and beans.
Here is how to enjoy Kalamata olives in just a few simple steps:
- Wash the olives with cold water, then remove residual water with a paper towel.
- Sprinkle the olives with lemon juice, 1/4 lemon is enough.
- Pour extra virgin olive oil Aegean Gold on the olives.
- Add some oregano or rosemary.
- Open a bottle of Ouzo and start your aperitif.
The composition of Greek salad is simple and there are always only 6 ingredients:
1. Cucumbers, medium in size, with a thin skin. The skin is not peeled off, the cucumbers are cut across.
2. Tomatoes. Medium size, no cherries etc. Just normal tomatoes, cut into 4 pieces.
3. Green pepper. Only green, no other colours. Cut across, in rings.
4. Feta. Real, solid sheep feta. Several large pieces for a large bowl of salad. Feta does not need to be crumbled, everyone will figure it out on their own.
5. Medium red onions. Cut into rings or half rings.
6. And of course, absolutely irreplaceable ingredients of any real authentic Greek salad are Kalamata olives. Or Kalamon, as we recently found out. Only with stones. Pitted olives are dead olives.
That's all. No lettuce, icebergs or other leaves.
All ingredients are cut large, no need to grind. Besides, it's too tiring.
All vegetables must be ripe and fresh. Plastic tomatoes will kill your Greek salad, so it's better not to try at all.
Most of olives are stored in brine. To remove some salt from the olives wash them with cold water. Even better if you have time to keep olives for a couple of hours in cold water, changing the water from time to time.If the olives are salty enough then you don’t need to add salt your salad.
However, using salt helps extract juice from vegetables, which will mix with the other ingredients and make the salad taste more intense.
We recommend you to use Trikalinos sea salt.
Soft and delicate crystals of this Aegean Sea salt dissolve very well even in cold dishes, emphasizing the taste of fresh vegetables.
Greek salad is dressed with a mild Greek olive oil such as Aegean Gold.
You don't have to season all the salad, but just put olive oil and vinegar in front of the guests, everyone will add them to taste.
You can also sprinkle your Greek salad with dried oregano but only in case you really want it and if you still have energy left after cooking such a difficult and complex dish.
Well, have you already felt the spirit of Greece?
Great, now Καλή όρεξη and enjoy your stay at home.