When choosing olives, be careful to look for whether they are pitted or unpitted. Most pitted olives are soaked in a brine that will change their flavor.
An unpitted olive can be pitted by gently crushing it with the palm of your hand. Give it a slight roll and the pit will simply pop right out. Although there are about 75 types of olives Many of them are not used in cooking to date. Here are the names and flavors of many of the 26 most popular olives that are used in cooking today.
Alphonso: These olives are imported from chile. They are really large, and purple. Their flavor is slightly bitter/sour. Their texture is soft and meaty.
Amfissa: These have a semi-firm texture and a fruity flavor. They are large in size and typically packed in salt and vinegar. They pair great with cheese and soups.
Arbequina: These are green with a bitter taste. They are usually purchased packed in brine.
Catalan: These are typically purchased packed in brine. They are Spanish olives that are marinated with curry, celery, and pepper. They are slightly crisp and have a dense meat to them. They really carry the curry aftertaste with them.
Cerignola: These are big, green or black olives. They are usually purchased packed in brine. Due to the ingredients in the brine, they have a slightly lemon-apple flavor infused into them.
Empeltre: These are dark black due to the fact that they are picked at total ripeness. They are then cured for about a year and packed in brine. This brings out a higher sugar content. They work great when mixed with olive oil to create a spread.
Gaeta: These are small and red/brown. They have a slightly earthy flavor that can complement many foods.
Kalamata: These are greenish black, with a purple hue. They are typically purchased packed in brine. They have a slightly pungent flavor.
Lucques: These olives are typically used as table olives. They are bright green in color and have a nutty taste. They are very meaty and typically packed in brine.
Manzanilla: These are the olives that are typically purchased in jars with the little pimento stuffed inside them. They are great in dishes or just as a snack. They are typically sold packed in brine.
Necoise: These are small, brownish purple. They have a very juicy interior what a fruity taste.
Nyon: These are black and typically purchased dry roasted. They are very tender but they have a bitter flavor.
Mission: These are the most popular of the black olive. They are allowed to ripen on the tree and have a slightly bitter, Briney taste. They are the ones you see at pizza parlors and are typically served on salads. They are typically sold in a can and packed in brine.
Picholine: These olives have a slightly nutty flavor and are great for snacking. They are green and typically come cured in brine. They are also a very popular table olive.