The Kalamata olive is a large, dark purple olive with a smooth, meaty texture named after the city of Kalamata in the southern Peloponnese, Greece. Often used as table olives, they are usually preserved in wine vinegar or olive oil. Outside the European Union, "Kalamata" is commonly used as the name of the variety and is legally and commonly used for such olives grown anywhere. However, within the EU the name is protected with PDO status, which means in the EU the name can only be used for olives (and olive oil) from the Messinia region of Greece. Olives of the same variety grown elsewhere are marketed as Kalamon olives in the EU and, sometimes, elsewhere.
A bowl of Kalamata olives
|Olive (Olea europaea)|
|Color of the ripe fruit||Dark purple|
|Hazards||Verticillium wilt and cold|
|Use||Table and oil|
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||284 kJ (68 kcal)|
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.|
Kalamata olives are so-named because they were originally grown in Kalamata in Messinia and also in nearby Laconia, both located on the Peloponnese peninsula. They are now grown in many places around the world, including in the United States and Australia. They are almond-shaped, plump, dark purple olives from a tree distinguished from the common olive by the size of its leaves, which grow to twice the size of other olive varieties. The trees are intolerant of cold and are susceptible to Verticillium wilt but are resistant to olive knot and to the olive fruit fly.
Kalamata olives, which cannot be harvested green, must be hand-picked in order to avoid bruising. They are classed as black olives.
Aetonychalea: (Kalámai), Aetonychi: (Greece), Aetonycholia: (Kalámai and Pátrai), Calamata (Agrínio, Aitolokón, Cyprus, Iznik, Kalámai, Lakonia, Messíni, Pelopónnisos, Spárti, Western Cape, and California,
Calamatatiani (Greece), Calamon: California, Kalámai, Kríti, Lakonia, Lamia, Messíni, Pátrai, Pelopónnisos, and Tunisie, Western Australia, Chondrolia: Kalámai, Lakonia, Messíni, and Pátrai, Kalamata Jumbo and Kalamata Tiny, and Western Australia,
Karakolia (Greece), Nychati: Kalámai and Pelopónnisos, Nychati di Kalamata: Aitolokón, Kalámai, and Lakonia, Tsigeli: , and Karamursel Su Kalamata: Bursa, Gebze, Gölcük, Karamürsel, Kocaeli, the Marmara region, and the variety of Su Zeytini of Turkey.
There are two methods of preparing Kalamata olives, known as the long and short methods. The short method debitters the olives by packing them in water or weak brine, which is changed daily, for around a week. Once complete, they are then packed in brine and wine vinegar with a layer of olive oil and slices of lemon on top. The olives are often slit to decrease the processing time. The long method involves slitting the olives, placing them in strong brine for up to three months in order to debitter them. Levels of polyphenol remain in the olives after processing, giving them their slightly bitter taste.
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