Whats a bad olive like?
March 3, 2012 11:26 PM   Subscribe

What attributes does a good-quality olive have?

Sometimes when I get non-canned olives, they are a bit soft or mushy, instead of firm and juicy, and may have darkened, indented spots. The flavor doesn't seem to be greatly affected.

Are these qualities generally considered defects? If so, would it be fussy for me to complain about them or return such olives to the seller? Or, if its normal, then how do you identify an olive thats gone bad?
posted by Hither to Food & Drink (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It depends on the type and to a degree, personal preference. For example, Kalamata olives do have a tendency to soften up a bit without any impairment of their strong, full-on flavour. Generally, however, I tend to look for at least moderate firmness in my olives. The odd soft bit or indentation doesn't trouble me, however.
posted by Decani at 2:37 AM on March 4, 2012

As a datapoint, Mezzini 'gemlick' olives are soft and mushy and aren't in oil or juice, by design. They're also stronger-tasting and saltier than other olives. For other types of olives, it's probably natural variation because I've noticed it in many brands and types of black olives, but I think not for green olives..
posted by rainy at 8:37 AM on March 4, 2012

I presume you are talking about green olives. As you seem to know, olives should be firm and juicy, mushiness is generally caused by over-processing (they have to be soaked in brine before they are edible). Some damage can occur in moving the olives from the tree to the processing place, and in the traditional method the olive must be slit or crushed slightly before soaking so that the brine can enter the interior. But if you are being sold olives with visible defects you are getting second grade olives and these should be priced accordingly.

With black olives the situation is different: while a black olive should simply be a ripe one (the green ones aren't ripe), you can make black ones from green by bathing them in harsh chemicals and oxidizing them. The result is sold as a kalamata olive, and to my taste is disgusting, slimy and chemical, but one that many people these days have wrongly equated with the name kalamata.
posted by alonsoquijano at 1:36 PM on March 4, 2012

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