Spain is the world’s largest producer and exporter of table olives in Canada (53,8% quota in 2016*). In fact, more than one in two olives consumed in Canada is Spanish.
This doesn’t really come as a surprise: olives from Spain have long been famous for their quality and wide range of varieties. Their versatility has also gained them popularity, as they’re a welcome addition to almost any dish, from appetizers and sauces to cocktails and even desserts.
Canada is home to many European immigrants and prides itself on its thriving cultural communities. Not only do these communities boost the demand for olives, they encourage the rest of the Canadian population to include them in their diet as well.
Spain produces more than 250 different varieties of olives, classified by type. This is determined by their mainly green or black colouring, which changes according to their degree of ripeness.
While most varieties are used for olive oil production, 10 per cent of the harvested olives are used to be enjoyed as table olives. To avoid damaging the fruit, they are still picked manually one by one, then go through a processing method, known as the Spanish or Sevillian style. Aiming to remove any bitterness, the olives are treated in a diluted lye solution and packed in brine, which starts the lactic fermentation process.
In Canada, the Gordal, Hojiblanca and Manzanilla varieties are the most popular, with an increasing number of Canadians now including them in their regular diets as a way of adopting the healthy Mediterranean lifestyle. Indeed, Dr. Carmen Gómez Candela, Head of Nutrition at the La Paz Hospital in Madrid, has conducted several studies that concluded table olives can play an important role in a balanced diet. Some studies even recommend we eat seven olives a day!
Olives offer a range of properties that help us live a healthy life. For example, 100 g of olives have just 150 kcal. They also contain a combination of essential vitamins, nutrients, minerals, oleic acids and fiber that help regulate cholesterol, slow down the cellular aging process and improve digestion.
In Canada, olives from Spain can be found in almost any grocery store and come in a number of different formats: cans, jars, plastic containers, and even in bulk for professionals.
To learn more about the origin of Spanish olives, please visit: http://olivesfromspain.ca/our-roots/.
*According to Statistics Canada.