Coquillo olive trees grow in the Murcia region of southern Spain, along the Mediterranean coast. Southern Spain’s Mediterranean climate renders ideal conditions for growing olive trees, even though rainfall levels can be low for much of the year. Coquillo olive trees produce small brown or black fruits that yield a sweet, slightly smoky flavor after processing. These olives are a close cousin to French-grown Niçoise olives.
Like other table olives, Coquillo olives are harvested by hand in order to avoid bruising the delicate fruits. This varietal is harvested in late Fall, from November to December, when the fruits are fully ripe.
The Coquillo olive can be cured using a Niçoise-style natural brine fermentation. During this process, the olives are cured in water and sea salt for about three months. Oftentimes, Niçoise-style olives are packed in oil with added herbs to produce a rich, tart flavor.
The salty, complex flavor of Coquillo olives pairs well with aged sheep’s milk cheeses or a piquant aged blue and a bold red wine. Niçoise-style Coquillo olives also complement tuna or anchovies, as in the famous Salad Niçoise. Consider serving briny Niçoise-style olives alongside fresh heirloom tomatoes in a pasta, salad, or on top of a pizza.
Coquillos are commonly substituted for French Niçoise olives because the two varieties are similar and French Niçoise olives can be sparse.
Coquillo olives are almost completely round in shape, with a very large pit compared to its total body.
Did You Know…?
The popular Salad Niçoise recipe was created in the late 18th century as a combination of tomatoes, anchovies and olive oil. Olives weren’t added to the salad until a new recipe was recorded in 1903.