Types of table (edible) olives

The substances in the skin of olives give them an intensely bitter taste and, as a result, olives cannot be picked directly off a tree and eaten. However, the consumption of olives greatly benefits the human body, as the olive is rich in calcium, vitamins and other nutrients.

Since antiquity, people have known the benefits of olives and have invented various ways of processing them in order to make them edible. Today, olives are a particularly valuable addition to our daily diet and are eaten on their own, usually with bread or rusk, they accompany salads or are cooked with other foodstuffs. The recommended daily intake for an adult is at least 80g.

On Crete, the best known varieties of table olives are Throumbolia (Throumba), Chondrolia and Tsounati.

In order for olives to lose their bitterness, they have to undergo a process that can be performed in numerous ways, depending on the olive variety. This processing is quite simple; it requires the use of ordinary materials (water, salt and, more rarely, thyme or other mountain herbs) and can be done at home, if the olives are to be consumed by the family, or at small factories, if the olives are to be sold. The throumbolia variety alone has the unique property of losing its bitterness on the tree as it ripens and acquires its unique greenish-bronze colour. The most common varieties of edible olives on Crete are green tsakistes (cracked) olives in brine, stafidolies (wrinkled olives), alatsolies (salted olives) and vinegary olives.

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