What Is the Different Between Kalamata and Black Olives?

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Oh, how I like olives!

People either adore them or despise them, which is understandable given that olives are little powerhouses of saline, pungent taste. It may take some getting accustomed to the flavor, but once you do, these salty tiny bits may become rather irresistible.

Kalamata and black olives are two of the most popular olive varieties, but what are the distinctions between these two little fruits? These two olive varietals are readily distinguished by their look, texture, and flavor. Let’s find out what the distinctions are between Kalamata and black olives!

What are Olives?

The stone fruit family includes olives, apricots, peaches, mangoes, and even cashews! These little fruits were originally cultivated in the Mediterranean’s warm and dry environment, but are now grown in comparable settings all over the globe, including North and South America and Australia.

The olive tree is a very significant resource since it not only provides a lot of delectable fruit, but the olive leaves may also be utilized for medical reasons. Moreover, olive tree wood is a stunning hardwood that may be fashioned into furniture, tools, and home décor. Let’s not forget the olive oil! The strongly flavored oil produced by olives is widely used in cuisines all around the world.

How Are Olives Processed?

Raw olives taste bitter in their natural form, much too bitter to consume directly off the tree. This is due to the presence of phenolic chemicals, which the tree produces to keep birds and other animals from eating all of the fruit. Early olive harvesters discovered that soaking olives in a saltwater solution or curing them in salt in a dark and dry environment would gradually eliminate the bitterness, leaving the olives with a salty taste rather than their natural astringency.

Since this process of curing might take a long time, professional olive producers now utilize a chemical shortcut in the form of a lye solution, which helps to eliminate bitterness much quicker than seawater. After soaking for the appropriate period of time, the olives are rinsed and packed into brine or pickling solution.

How Do Olives Taste?

Although the tastes of olives vary, all olives should have a distinct, salty, saline flavor with an oily texture. All olives start off green, and depending on the kind, they may become various colours of brown, black, or purple.

What are Kalamata Olives?

Kalamata olives are a variety of black olive native to the Messinia area of southern Greece, and they get their name from the neighboring city of Kalamata.


Despite their name, Kalamata olives are really dark purple or purplish-brown in hue, similar to the skin of an eggplant. While all olives begin green, their consistent deep purple hue highlights another distinctive feature of Kalamata olives: they are plucked only when mature!

Most olive varietals may be plucked at any stage of ripening, but Kalamatas cannot. They are picked only once they have reached full maturity. Kalamata olives are bigger than ordinary olives and have a long, ovular, almond form with pointy ends. Kalamata olives are often marketed pitted, however several kinds are sold with the pits remaining inside, so be cautious before chomping!


For curing Kalamata olives, manufacturers often avoid the lye solution used on many other varieties of olives and instead rely on ordinary salt. This procedure is more time consuming, but it permits the olives to retain specific flavor qualities. Kalamata olives are often packed into a savory brine that may include red wine vinegar, fresh lemon slices, and potentially different herbs such as bay leaves after the bitterness is eliminated by the salt soak.

What Do Kalamata Olives Taste Like?

Kalamata olives are delicious! They have a rich flavor due to all of that natural oil and a somewhat fruity flavour when compared to other olives gathered in an immature stage. Further layers of taste are often included, however these might vary based on the brine in which they are packed, which may add red wine or herbaceous qualities depending on the components used.

Moreover, mature olives have a distinct feel from unripe olives, thus Kalamatas have a distinctive soft but meaty texture that is simple to enjoy in a bowl of mixed olives or in dishes like our Mediterranean Lunch Bowl.

What are Black Olives?

Since Kalamatas are simply one sort of black olive, the phrase “black olives” refers to a broad group of olives rather than a single varietal! Nonetheless, most people associate black olives with the commercial, canned type.


Black olives, sometimes known as California black olives (regardless of where they are grown), look pitch black at first glance, but closer inspection reveals that they are generally a deep chocolate brown, with a tint of rich navy blue. They are also fairly spherical, with a smooth and shining texture, as contrast to oblong Kalamatas, which have a somewhat rougher surface. Although most black olives are small to medium in size, there are extra-large and giant kinds.


As previously said, one of the most differentiating aspects of olive varietals is how they are treated. Since most black olives are picked green and unripe, they are normally cured using a lye solution rather than a saltwater brine solution. Throughout the procedure, the lye helps to mature the olives, converting them from green to brown and black.

This also explains why certain olives in a can of black olives may be softer than others, since a partially ripe black olive is not unusual in the batch! When the olives have been cleaned and finished in the lye solution, they are packed in a mildly salted brine solution and gently cooked during canning.

What Do Black Olives Taste Like?

Although all Kalamata olives taste identical, black olives may have a variety of flavors. This is owing to the many varieties of olives used in the manufacturing of black olives, as well as differing degrees of ripeness, brining procedure, and any specific spices employed by individual producers.

Nonetheless, black olives have a softer taste than Kalamata olives and are less powerful than other olives, with just a little salty flavor. Since black olives are artificially ripened, they have less fruitiness than Kalamata olives, which are left to completely mature on the tree before harvesting.

Texturally, black olives will feel somewhat crisper than the meaty chew of Kalamatas, similar to the difference between al dente and well-cooked pasta.

Can You Substitute Kalamata Olives With Black Olives?

Because of the difference in taste strength between these two varieties of olives, they are not a perfect substitution for one another. Although black sliced olives compliment a spaghetti sauce well, the saline, fruitiness of Kalamata olives may easily overshadow the delicate sweetness of tomatoes and onion. Recipes that call for Kalamata olives, on the other hand, are searching for real olive taste, which a plain can of black olives may not provide.

That being said, olives are olives, and substituting one for the other in any manner is unlikely to damage a dish. If you prefer to use black olives instead of Kalamata olives, use a touch more than the recipe asks for. If your substitution will be the opposite way around, use a smaller number of Kalamatas to prevent a taste takeover!

Other Types of Olives

Kalamata and black olives are not the only two varieties of olives available. If none of these appeal to you, or if you really adore them and can’t get enough of them, try some of these other popular olive kinds and recipes.

  • Manzanilla olives are maybe the most well-known green olives. They are tiny in size, have a strong taste, and are often packed with pimento (sweet red pepper!) or blue cheese.
  • Halkidiki Green Olives are large, green Greek olives that are often filled with feta cheese. Crisp and buttery with a bright, briny taste, these olives are a must-try.
  • Nicoise olives are a French culinary tradition, cured in salt and typically filled with herbs. These olives are used in recipes like Nicoise salad and olive tapenade.
  • Gaeta Black Olives are small, dark pink to violet olives. Gaeta olives have a taste and texture comparable to Kalamatas but come in a smaller package!

What Type of Olives are Used for Olive Oil?

The olives used to make olive oil are not the same ones we eat whole or add into salads. Although ordinary table olives will provide oil since they are oily by nature, they will not create the same sort of olive oil that you would anticipate from a store-bought jar.

Olives produced for olive oil (whether light or extra virgin olive oil) have a greater oil content, higher amounts of phenolic acids, and more intense, occasionally peppery tastes.

Are Olives Good for You?

If you adore these small savory bits as much as we do, you’ll be pleased to know that olives pack a hefty dose of health benefits into their tiny wrappers! The same phenolic acids that give olives their acute bitterness are also the same molecules that deliver a slew of antioxidants.

If you needed any more reason to eat olives (and plenty of them! ), they are also high in vitamin E, another natural antioxidant, as well as monounsaturated fats, which are good for your heart.

Summary of Differences Between Kalamata Olives and Black Olives

Despite their many similarities (they are both olives, after all! ), There are major distinctions between Kalamata and black olives:

  • A Kalamata olive has an almond shape, an extended body, and pointy ends, while black olives are considerably rounder and smoother. Kalamata olives may be dark purple or purple-brown, but black olives are even deeper brown to black. Kalamatas are also bigger than many black olives, however there are some enormous black olives out there!
  • Harvesting and Curing: Black and Kalamata olives are cured in various ways. Black olives are collected when still green and steeped in a lye solution, which eliminates the bitterness and darkens the olives to a dark brown or black color. Kalamata olives, unlike black olives, are collected only when mature and cured in a saltwater solution. Both Kalamata and black olives are packed in brine after their solutions have been rinsed away.
  • Taste: Kalamata olives have a much richer and stronger flavor than black olives, and they have fruity undertones from being allowed to completely develop. The flavor of Kalamata olives might vary depending on the manufacturer, since some choose to package their olives in wine vinegar and herbs, while others prefer a plain salt brine. Since they are collected when unripe, black olives are less fruity and have a delightfully mellow taste.

Regardless of which olives you choose, they are a wonderful way to get some healthy fats into your diet, and if you get tired of Kalamata and black olives, there are lots of other olive kinds to try!


Are Kalamata olives better than black olives?

Taste: Kalamata olives have a much richer and stronger flavor than black olives, and they have fruity undertones from being allowed to completely develop. The flavor of Kalamata olives might vary depending on the manufacturer, since some choose to package their olives in wine vinegar and herbs, while others prefer a plain salt brine.

Can I substitute Kalamata olives for black olives?

If you want something with a unique taste, Kalamata olives are an excellent option for black olives. What exactly is this? Its fruity flavor and texture make them an excellent complement to a variety of cuisines.

What are the healthiest olives to eat?

Oleic acid, a kind of MUFA associated to better heart health and cancer-fighting abilities, is abundant in Kalamata olives. They are also high in iron, calcium, copper, and vitamins A and E.

Why are Kalamata olives black?

Black olives, while being labeled as “ripe” on grocery cans, are really green olives that have been cured in an alkaline solution and then treated with oxygen and an iron compound (ferrous gluconate) to give their skins a slick patent-leather black.

What color olives are the healthiest?

Green olives are high in antioxidants and good fats. They are rich in vitamin A and vitamin E.

How many olives should you eat a day?

To stay inside the recommended saturated fat limits, restrict your daily consumption to 2-3 ounces (56-84 grams) — roughly 16-24 small- to medium-sized olives. While olives might help you lose weight, they are heavy in salt and fat, and eating too many of them can undermine your weight reduction efforts.

Do black olives and Kalamata olives taste the same?

Kalamata olives have a more robust flavor that sometimes border on sweet and fruity. Black olives, on the other hand, have a milder flavor with fewer powerful tastes. Take in mind that Kalamata and black olives may be bitter when initially picked.

Why can’t you buy black olives in a jar?

The whole industry adopted a new standard for mature California olives. “It must be heated to 240°F.” Only a can could physically withstand that—you couldn’t accomplish it with a glass container.”

Why are Kalamata olives special?

They are high in antioxidants, and studies have linked diets that include frequent portions of olives to a variety of positive outcomes. Kalamata olives may lower your chances of developing heart disease. This is because the olives contain hydroxytyrosol.

Is it okay to eat olives everyday?

Because they’re a delicious snack or mealtime item that’s also a healthy pleasure. In fact, olives are so beneficial that include more of them in your diet is one of those no-brainer health-boosters that no one should overlook.

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