How Olives are Made

Sure, you love the taste of California Ripe Olives. Who doesn’t? But before you go and plant your own for picking, you need to know that they don’t taste quite so great straight off the tree. In fact, raw olives right off the tree are much too bitter to eat. They need to be cured first, to bring out their flavor.

While there are many different curing methods used around the world, in California, most olives become California black ripe olives, which are prized for their firm texture and smooth, mellow taste. 

The method of processing California Ripe Olives was invented in the late 1800s by a housewife named Freda Ehmann and that same recipe is followed today. It is a multi-day process that starts by putting the olives into a lye curing solution to leach the natural bitterness out. This is followed by a series of cold-water rinses, which remove every trace of curing solution. Throughout the multi-day curing process, pure air is constantly bubbled through the olives. This air is what creates the natural, rich dark color of California Black Ripe Olives. Green Ripe Olives go through a nearly identical curing process. However, their tanks are not injected with air, allowing them to retain their green color. At the very end, a trace of organic iron salt (ferrous gluconate) is sometimes added, which acts as a color fixer so the olives will maintain their rich black color after the cans are stored.

Finally, California Ripe Olives are pitted and canned-whole, sliced, wedged or chopped-in a mild salt brine. Because they are a low acid product, they are heat sterilized following strict California State health codes. In addition, they are inspected by the USDA to ensure consistent quality, color, flavor and texture, so they reach your supermarket shelves just the way you want them: firm, smooth and delicious.

If all this talk has made you hungry, we have lots of recipes to tempt your tastebuds.

This video also gives a great overview of how olives transform from the orchard to the grocery store shelf.