Beyond being the star of print, stage, and screen, the olive tree is also known as one of the heartiest, drough-resistant plants. It can live a very long time if pruned and cared for properly, and some of the trees in the Mediterranean have been around for several centuries. Olive trees prefer drier soils and warmer climates and as such, they are currently cultivated in the temperate regions of the Mediterranean, Chile, Australia, South Africa, and California.
The olive fruit, which is the part of the plant used for oil, is harvested during the fall season. Farmers use an array of techniques, such as limb-shaking and the tong-shaped oliviera, to safely remove the fruit. It then must be fermented and cured before being considered "palatable." While the oil is most commonly used for cooking purposes, it can also be found in medicinal teas and is not being researched as a possible renewable energy source.
Varieties of Olives at the market
- Coratina olives
- Manzanillo olives
- Mission olives