Are you a green-olive or a black-olive person? This is one of those mysterious dividing lines, like the gulf between lovers of milk and dark chocolate. Such choices feel as personal as the music we listen to or the perfume we wear. Yet our preferences are also shaped by fashion. With olives, there has been a notable shift greenwards.

Black vs. Green Olives

Olives have been known for centuries for their nutritional and medicinal qualities. Olives are grown in abundance in Central/tropical Asia, parts of Africa and the Mediterranean countries.
There is hardly any difference between black and green olives, but one is in their degree of ripeness. Green olives are unripe, whereas the black olives are ripe. Green olives are picked well before they are ripe, while black olives are picked only after they are ripe.

Another difference is that green olives have to be soaked in a lye-solution before brining. Black olives, on the other hand, don’t need soaking. It is also said that green olives contain more oil than black olives.
There is a slight difference in texture, between the two. Green olives have a firmer texture than black olives. Where green olives are moist, black olives are dry. Unlike green olives, black olives have a smooth finish.

Chefs have different preferences when it comes to using green or black olives in their menus. Most chefs use green olives as a garnish or to give a ‘bitter’ taste. Mostly green olives are not cooked or baked. In contrast, black olives are used in baked and cooked dishes and are mainly used in meat, salad, pizza and calzones.

Green olives are stuffed with capers, anchovies, almonds and pepper to add to the taste and flavor. Black olives, however, are not usually stuffed. There is not much difference between green olive and black olives when comparing their nutritional aspects.

Culinary Uses: Green olives are used in their raw state for garnishing martinis and even salads sometimes, especially egg salad. They are even eaten plainly as table snacks. They are never cooked or heated because their strong flavor can overpower that of other ingredients. While, black olives are widely used in salads, pizzas, pastas and Mediterranean cuisine.

Green olives are green, but black is not always black olives

Albania produces so many olives that the following phenomenon does not happen in this country. But in places where olives are not cultivated and they are mainly imported, strange things happen. Usually black olives have a depth of taste, but sometimes one might feel that their black olives lack that depth of flavor. The reason is that almost all of the cheaper “black olives” sold in cans or jars were – and are – green olives colored black. If you take unripe olives and treat them with an alkaline solution and oxygen, the color will gradually darken. A chemical is then used to fix the color, before they are pitted and canned in brine. The label does not have to mention this little deception, since it is the result of processing rather than dye. Given a choice between fake “black” olives and real green, one better chooses the greens./