The olive tree (Olea europea), along with its fruit and the oil it produces, is a quintessential symbol of the Mediterranean region. The tree is an evergreen that features distinctive silvery-green foliage. The trees are grown in valley meadows and on terraced hillsides, and even trees more than several hundred years old can still produce a good crop.
Olives are harvested at various stages of ripeness. Green olives are less ripe, with firm flesh and more bitter flavor tones. As the olives mature, they blacken, soften, and begin to release more of their oils, making for a softer, richer-flavored fruit. Olives can be cured in salt, in water, in a bring solution, or in oil, or they may be dry-cured. Brine and oil cures are also enriched with flavorings such as citrus rinds, herbs, and spices.
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