@delallofoods

Calamata Olives

POSTED August 30, 2018

Calamata olives are the most well-known Greek varietal. They are characterized by their almond shape and deep purple to black hue. Calamata olives have widespread popularity outside of Greece thanks to their rich, meaty texture and complex smoky flavor that is both tart and fruity.

Growing Region and Harvesting

Calamata olives are named for the town of Kalamata located in the Messenia Valley of Greece’s Peloponnese region, but they are also grown throughout Central and Western Greece. These olives thrive in the arid Mediterranean climate of these regions and proximity to ocean breezes.

The fruit from these trees, many of which have been bearing fruit since antiquity, usually are harvested from November through the end of the year. As is the practice with all table olives, the fruit is picked only by hand. Calamata olives are only desirable when they have surpassed their under-ripe “blonde” or brown color and have taken on their full deep purple to black hue.  

Curing

The Calamata variety is cured using a natural brine fermentation, meaning that it is simply cured using water and salt for a period of approximately three months depending on the fruit’s size. Selecting the fruit at peak ripeness and curing with natural and traditional methods gives Calamata olives a semi-firm bite and an unmistakably sharp wine flavor with a pleasant smoky finish.

Note: Often, under-ripe fruit is cured along with the addition of red wine vinegar or grape must (cooked grape juice with skins, seeds, and stems) in order to mask the color and bitterness of lesser quality fruit. This is not a practice for DeLallo.

Pairings

Calamata olives are a fine table olive that can be enjoyed alone as an appetizer or snack. They are commonly paired with feta, the most common cheese of its origin. Calamata olives often appear on charcuterie boards or antipasti platters alongside other cheeses, cured meats, marinated vegetables, and dips or spreads. Their salty, mild flavor also makes this varietal ideal for use in salads, pasta dishes, tapenade spreads, and pizzas. Calamata olives pair well with a glass of Pinot noir.

Quick Facts

  • Almond shape with a signature deep purple hue that ranges from eggplant purple to nearly black.
  • Grown to be used for both table olives and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Handpicked for table olives to avoid bruising.
  • Cured in a natural sea salt brine for about 3 months.

Did You Know…?

Calamata olives are the most popular table olive in the United States.