A Brief History Of Kalamata Olives

Kalamata olives
Kalamata olives | © Alexander Baxevanis/Flickr
Ethel Dilouambaka

A glass of white wine, raki or tsipouro. A bit of bread and a small plate of feta cheese. Add to these a cup of Kalamata olives, and you have the ultimate Greek appetizer. It is even better when you’re sitting at a table facing the glistening blue sea or people-watching in a small village’s square. Kalamata olives are part of daily life in Greece, and today, they are protected with PDO status.
The olive tree has been around for thousands of years and is thought to have originated from the East Mediterranean region. A symbol of honor and culture, the olive tree has even been used as a prize for champions at the Olympic Games, and since the early Minoan era, olives have been a food item. Now, these little black pearls are a staple in not only Greek cuisine but also international varieties.

Olives & oil

Popular for its nutritional properties and its healthy dose of fat, Kalamata olives, of the Kalamon variety, are named after the region where they are produced, Messinia, in Peloponnese, although they are also harvested in the neighboring area of Laconia. Blessed with a mild Mediterranean climate with extensive periods of sunshine, the fruitful land provides the ideal conditions for growing olives.

Known for their oval shape, dark purple color, and intense flavor, Kalamata olives are hand-picked to avoid bruising. Their optimal harvest time is late fall, while other varieties are usually picked earlier, which explains why they are still green. It is all about balance. If the olives are too green, the fruits, along with the olive oil produced, will taste bitter. If they are too black, the quality will be lost.

If you are lucky enough to tour the region during harvest, you will notice that mesh nets are placed under the trees to gather all the fruits as the branches are shaken. Very bitter to the taste, Kalamata olives cannot be eaten right away. They are usually placed in a brine solution to allow for the fermentation process to work its magic. The process can last up to a few months, after which the olives acquire their rich, meaty taste. Only then are they ideal for consumption.

Black & Green Olive
landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Edit article