What’s the difference between green and black olives?

26 February 2019

Green or black? Black or green? If only all of life’s dilemmas were as simple as deciding which type of olive to eat… What’s it to be: the strong taste and energy boost from black olives or the more mildly flavoured green olives?

In fact, green and black olives both come from the same tree, but the green ones are picked before the black ones. All olives start off as green—hence the colour of extra-virgin olive oil, which at the end of the day is nothing more than the juice of the very best olives—but as they ripen, they begin to take on a purplish hue until they turn completely black. Tasty black olives are not only more strongly flavoured and longer lasting, they’re also packed with more calories: some black olives can contain twice as many calories as green olives. However, nutritionally speaking, they are very similar.

Green olives are picked at the start of summer, when the fruit begins to appear; after that, they slowly turn darker in colour: first reddish or pinkish, then more like the colour of red wine and finally black. Green olives are treated with alkaline solution to remove some of their bitterness (since they are picked before they have had time to ripen) and are later conserved in brine.

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