Shelf Life of Olives
In as much as olives are brined, poor storage conditions can cause spoilage. Given the fact that you will buy them in glass jars, cans or bottles, exercise caution when storing commercially packaged ones.
Never leave unopened cans at room temperature. Cover the cans tightly after each use.
Moreover, such cans usually come with a ‘best by’ date. However, the olives remain in good quality after this date.
- For instance, well refrigerated cans or bottles keep well for up to 2 years. Store unopened cans in the pantry for up to 2 years.
- As for opened cans or bottles, refrigerate and consume within 6 months.
- Olives packed in oil deteriorate faster due to rancidity. At best, they last up to 4 months in the refrigerator.
- Store unopened cans away from direct light and moisture. Use the pantry or kitchen cabinets.
- Ensure the olives remain submerged in their liquids at all times. This prevents deterioration. In case the curing liquids run out, make your own brine solution.
Varieties and Uses of Olives
Besides the usual green or black olives that you are used to, there are thousands of other cultivars grown throughout the world. Quite baffling, isn’t it?
In fact, olives change from green to dark purple or black as they ripen. However, some black ones are actually green olives that have undergone chemical curing processes.
In your local store or market, you are most likely to find olives packed in brine solutions. Brine can be made from vinegar, salt, lemon juice, lactic acid, oil or lye.
Additionally, you will find both whole as well as pitted. Some are also stuffed with pimientos.
Common varieties include: Greek Kalamata, Manzanillo, Ascolano, Cerignola, Gordal, Arbequina, Picual, Leccino and Frantoio.
Olives form a crucial component of the Mediterranean diet. They are versatile and add a zesty tang to any dish. There are countless ways you can use them.
- Munch them on their own.
- Throw in a few on pasta dishes, stews, salads, pizza toppings, dips, artisan breads, sauces and sandwiches.
- Stuff olives with various types of cheese, pimientos, sausage meat, minced meat, leafy greens as well as chopped vegetables.
- Use as garnishes on Martini.
Spoilage in Olives
Unless you have access to freshly harvested ones, most of the time we deal with jarred or canned types. So, how do you identify spoilage? Here’s how:
- Discoloration of liquids. Extremely dark liquid is not a good sign. Replace them.
- Cloudy appearance.
- Visible mold. Exposure to air or fresh water causes mold growth. Discard immediately.
- Off-odor on the canned contents. Anything out of the usual brine smell is alarming.
- Look out for white spots. Also, sunken, sticky flesh is a clear indicator.