Types of Olives, Authentic Italian Cultivar
Italy is home to 500 types of olives, also called ‘cultivars’. This makes Italian olives tower over their French and Spanish counterparts (with just 70 varietals) and accounts for 42% of the world’s olive patrimony. This array of types of Italian olives has a number of specific uses, from eating them raw or in recipes, to making extra virgin oil out of one of 50 types.
If there is a primary distinction to be made in types of olives, it is between black (in reality purplish) and green, which depends entirely on the harvesting period – in autumn and winter when they are mature, they are much darker than in summer as nubbins. Other important distinguishing features are size, flesh to seed relationship, maturation, consistency and the sensory characteristics of the oils they make.
The most common types of olives for this purpose, as well as feasting on are taggiasca, frantoio, moresca, ogliarolabarese, coratina, biancolilla and nostrana. Their geographic territories depend in large part on their adaptation to the individual traits of each landscape, with deep historic roots that can reach back thousands of years. In some cases, the same types go by a different name depending on the region.