Olive blossom appears on the olive trees in Spring, with the olives growing fleshier and forming a hard stone in the centre in the Summer. Finally, the olives are harvested from September to January. The time of harvest depends on the colour of the olive. Green olives are harvested at the beginning of the season. As the olives ripen they turn shades of purplish – black on the tree and naturally black olives are harvested at the end of the season.
In Greece olives are still harvested without the use of intensive machinery to ensure the fruit isn’t damaged. It also protects birds and other wildlife from being harmed. It’s more labour intensive but well worth it. These are the main categories of Greek olives
- Green Olives: Harvested at the “unripe” stage around September, these olives are firm in texture, crunchy when bitten into with their flesh firmly attached to the stone. Green olives vary in colour from leafy-green to straw-yellow.
- Blond Olives: These olives are harvested in September/October when semi-ripe, during the “turning” stage from green to black. Colours can be anything from light green-yellow to shades of light brown. These olives are firm but will not have the same bitterness as green olives.
- Natural Black Olives: Natural black olives vary in colour from light brown through to deep chestnut, the skin is still fairly firm but the flesh will be much softer and more loosely attached to the stone than that of green olives. These olives are harvested towards the end of the season at the “ripe” stage.
- Kalamata Olives: With their rich fruity flavour, meaty texture and distinctive almond shape it is easy to see why the Kalamata is considered the “queen” of all Greek olives. These olives should be plump with glossy skin and show a slight variation in colour from deep chestnut through to dark purple. Like natural black olives, Kalamata olives are harvested when ripe.