Healthy Pizza Ingredient: Kalamata Olives

Kalamata Olives: One of the Healthiest Foods on Earth


At Pizzoli’s, we’re known for our fresh, organic pizza ingredients. Every once in a while someone will come in and ask about one of the toppings. Today we’re going to showcase one of them: Kalamata Olives.

Although olives often show up on a veggie pizza, much like the tomato, they’re often mistakenly called vegetables; however,

despite the popular misconception, olives are a fruit rather than a vegetable.

This is due to the “pit” (stone) at their core, which places them in the drupe category of fruits along with plums and cherries (1).

Kalamata olives are one of the most interesting olive varieties, and they contain powerful polyphenols that appear to protect against disease.

from Nutrition Advance, “Kalamata Olives” (see link above).

The Kalamata is a good source of  Iron, Calcium, Vitamin A and Fiber, but don’t take that to mean that you can stuff your face without consequences. Their “good” fat from an unusually high oil content will still be tough to digest if you overindulge, as the Nutrition Advance article further describes them as a relatively high calorie food:

These olives can be a very nutritious part of a balanced diet, but you might not want to overdo your intake if you’re trying to lose weight. Three to five Kalamata olives have around 45 calories. Luckily, you don’t need many to add great flavor to any meal.

There’s a fantastic article on that goes through 14 significant varieties. Hannah Howard gives some great insight and information for what’s been taken for granted as basically green or black. In fact, people will say that they don’t like black, but will eat green, and vice versa, but –

Fun dinner party fact: there are no green olive trees! The color of an olive is an indication of its ripeness. Green olives ripen and become black olives. Or rather, they transform from green to light brown, to a vibrant red and purple, to the deepest, darkest black. In general, the darker the olive, the riper it was when it was plucked from the tree. 

So you can pick them straight off of the tree and indulge, just make sure you get the ripe or under-ripe fruit that you love? Not quite.

…it’s a cure that makes an olive an olive, imparting the characteristic saltiness, tender texture, and flavor. Thanks to the bitterness of oleuropin—safe but profoundly unappealing—olives need to undergo a curing process before they’re ready to eat. If you’ve accidentally bitten into a raw olive, you are no doubt familiar with the excruciatingly bitter panic that ensues.

Olive curing is actually more like fermentation—it’s the conversion of the olive’s natural sugars into lactic acid. Harsh-tasting oleuropein and phenols get leached from the fruit in one of five ways.

Yummy Kalamata Olives – add them to your pizza order the next time you order from us. You just might have a favorite new topping. We’re now just a local pizza place near you, we’re trying to broaden your mind, too. Well, when it comes to organic pizza ingredients, anyway.

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

The king of Greek table olives, beloved and popular Kalamatas are deep purple, with tight, snappy, shiny skin, and a pretty almond shape. They’re typically preserved in red wine vinegar, red wine, and/or olive oil for a distinctive rich, smoky, fruity flavor. This variety is a great candidate for tapenades, but I also loved them served simply with some roasted cauliflower.

From “A Beginner’s Guide to Olives: 14 Varieties Worth Seeking Out” by Hannah Howard.

Please click here to read the rest of this incredibly informative article. It’ll make you think twice about picking the olives off of your next pizza slice!

 Pizzolis is just a short walk or drive to Whole Foods Market through Logan circle down “P” street.