The Castelvetrano Olive
The Castelvetrano Olive, or Nocellara del Belice, is an olive grown in western Sicily with an intense green coloring and sweeter flavor.
- The Castelvetrano is grown exclusively in western Sicily among the Belice river valley, near the town of Castelvetrano.
- Late to fruition and bearing fruit in its fifth year, the tree's average yield is fair with crops typically alternating.
- Harvest for table olive purposes begins the first week of October and extends through until the middle of November.
- The Castelvetrano that most consumers identify is not actually cured, but processed similar to a California-style black, ripe olive. The fruit is washed in lye, or caustic soda, for a period of up to 12 hours. This is what takes the bitterness out of the olive. It is, then, continually washed in fresh water to remove the lye. Once there are no traces of lye left, the olive is either refrigerated or canned. This process is evident by its intense green color and sweet flavor. This olive can be cured in standard brine fermentation for about three months, changing its color (to a greenish-brown) and flavor.
- The processed Castelvetrano olive must be either refrigerated or canned, otherwise it will turn quickly. This is because the olive doesn't undergo the fermentation process.
- The use of chlorophyl dye is prohibited by USDA standards. It can be inferred that the olive is most likely treated with this dye if left out of refrigeration to keep its bright neon green color instead of oxidizing to a dark greenish-brown.
Pairings & Recipe Ideas:
- Cheese pairing: Parmigiano-Reggiano, Mozzarella di Bufala
- Marcona Almonds
- Genoa salami
- Sicilian Orange & Olive Couscous Salad