Spotlight Series: Castelvetrano Olives
Just what are Castelvetrano olives, anyway?
There’s a reason these Sicilian green olives are everywhere. They are featured on restaurant menus, on cheese boards, in Mediterranean-inspired recipes, you name it. Castelvetrano olives have a mild, irresistibly buttery flavor and a meaty texture, making them the perfect olive for both new olive fans and experienced olive connoisseurs alike. When buying this varietal, look for natural Castelvetrano olives that are free from dyes.
What Are Castelvetrano Olives?
The Castelvetrano olive, also known as Nocellara del Belice, is an olive varietal from the Valle del Belice region of Sicily. Famous for their mild, buttery flavor, crisp bite and meaty texture, Castelvetrano olives are popular with both hardcore olive lovers and olive-eating newbies. These prized green olives are grown for table olives and for olive oil, and are DOP protected in the E.U. under both uses.
The Growing Region, Harvesting And Our Curing Process
Castelvetrano olives grow in the Valle del Belice region of southwestern Sicily. Also known by the name Nocellara del Belice, this olive enjoys one of the finest climates in the Mediterranean with hot days, cool evenings and coastal breezes. The variety has a Protected Designation of Origin, or PDO, seal to guarantee that olives called Castelvetrano olives can only come from this region.
Castelvetrano olives, like most green olives, are harvested young when they reach peak flavor and a green color. Castelvetrano olives are harvested in late September through October. The production area of this olive is relatively small and the olive trees can only bear fruit in their fifth year.
Curing the Castelvetrano olive variety is not typical, as they are not fermented to produce the final product. Instead, these olives are processed in a bath of fresh water and lye solution for multiple times in a two-week period. This process removes bitter compounds more quickly and so the olive retains its crisp, meaty texture but develops that buttery, mild olive flavor you love. Once the processing is complete, olives are washed thoroughly and stored in refrigeration.
The Best Ways To Use Castelvetrano Olives And How To Pair With Other Ingredients
Can a cheese board really be a success without the Castelvetrano olive? This Italian green olive is a must-have entertaining olive. Why? Because everyone loves them… even those who don’t think they like olives can’t get enough Castelvetrano olives. When it comes to pairing them up with other antipasto and charcuterie favorites, these olives have a mild flavor that make them pretty versatile. We love pairing Castelvetrano olives with other Italian antipasti and cheese board features like dry cured salami, hard Italian cheeses, mozzarella cheese and more. As for a wine pairing, we recommend a chilled white Sauvignon Blanc.
Castelvetrano olives are more than just a tasty snacking olive, these buttery green olives shine in the kitchen as a bright, briny ingredient in so many creations. The crisp bite and meaty texture of the Castelvetrano makes it the perfect olive for chopping up into a flavorful sauce for poultry, fish or lamb when chopped up and used to create a sauce. These olives also taste great in a chilled dirty martini. Because they are mild in flavor, there isn’t much that Castelvetrano olives can’t do. Use them to add a burst of flavor to leafy green salads, hot or cold pasta recipes, pizzas, flatbreads, wraps, hummus, baked Brie… the possibilities are endless.
Check out some of our favorite Castelvetrano recipes:
Don’t Have Castelvetrano Olives? Here Are The Best Substitutes
California Sevillano: The California Sevillano is a plump, meaty olive with a brilliant balance of tart and buttery flavors. We infuse our gorgeous green olives with a subtle blend of herbs and pit them for convenience in the kitchen.
Cerignola Green Olives: Cerignola olives are among the most popular Italian green table olives. These large, round olives have a mild flavor and meaty texture that is distinctive without being overpowering.
Manzanilla Olives: Manzanilla Olives are plump, green Spanish olives with a tart, briny flavor stuffed with sweet red pimento.
Calamata Olives: Pitted Calamata Olives are prized Greek olives with a distinct almond shape and purple hue and have a complex tart and tangy flavor with a semi-firm texture and meaty bite.
Castelvetrano Olives: FAQ
What Makes Castelvetrano Olives Different?
Unlike many varieties of table olives that offer tart, tangy and sometimes pungent flavor profiles, the Castelvetrano olive is known for its mild and buttery flavor. Even if you don’t consider yourself an olive lover, we dare you to resist the Castelvetrano!
What Do Castelvetrano Olives Taste Like?
Due to the curing methods, Castelvetrano olives have a milder olive flavor than most. It is often described as buttery, briny and mild.
What Color Should Castelvetrano Olives Be?
Beware of imposter Castelvetrano olives! Consider the shocking green hue of many Castelvetrano olives your warning sign. That bright green dye is not natural—in fact, it’s illegal. Often it’s not even included on the label. Natural Castelvetrano olives are pale, straw green—never neon!
What Is The Difference Between Castelvetrano Olives And Green Olives?
Castelvetrano olives are a type of green olive. The classification of “green olive” can refer to many varieties of olive.
What Is The Difference Between Castelvetrano Olives And Frescatrano Olives?
The Castelvetrano olive is similar to the Frescatrano olive in its flavor because it has a similar curing process. Both olives are quickly processed in a lye bath that removes bitter compounds but allows the olive to retain its crisp texture and natural hue. The Frescatrano olive is actually a Halkidiki olive from Greece.
What Is The Difference Between Castelvetrano Olives And Kalamata Olives?
The Castelvetrano olive and the Kalamata olive are two very different olives. The Castelvetrano is a mild green olive from Sicily, while the Kalamata is a dark purple-hued olive with a super tart and briny flavor. These two olives couldn’t be more different.
What Is The Difference Between Castelvetrano Olives And Manzanilla Olives?
The Castelvetrano olive is a mild, green olive from Sicily. The Manzanilla olive is a small, crisp green olive from Spain. While both olives are green and crisp with a milder flavor, the Spanish Manzanilla is often pitted and stuffed with pimento—the most common olive on grocery store shelves.
What Is The Difference Between Castelvetrano Olives And Cerignola Olives?
Bella di Cerignola olives are humongous Italian olives that are harvested as both young green and ripe black olives. The Castelvetrano is harvested in its young green form and would be considered a medium-sized olive fruit. Like the green Castelvetrano olive, the Bella di Cerignola olive can be described as mild and buttery. Both of these Italian olives are cured in the same way—a lye bath processing, which is quick and allows olives to retain their irresistibly crisp, meaty texture.
Are Castelvetrano Olives Good For You?
Olives and olive oil play a vital role in the healthy Mediterranean diet. Like all olives, Castelvetrano olives are rich in antioxidants. They also contain beneficial fatty acids and polyphenols that boost heart health and make them a favorite food for cognition and memory.
Where Can I Buy Castelvetrano Olives?
Most major supermarkets sell DeLallo Castelvetrano Olives, along with many of our other olive items. Locate Castelvetrano Olives in the Italian food section, the pickled condiment section or the deli department’s entertaining area (or olive bar.) If you can’t find DeLallo Olives in your local grocery store, order them online or get them shipped straight to you.