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Monday, May 18, 2009

Morocco: The Olive Harvest Part III

Morocco: The Olive Harvest

Part III

The Processed Olives
While the process of pressing oil is fascinating, the olives themselves are the true marvel. In the West, people tend to categorize olives simply either into green and black categories. But in the East, the true secrets of the olive reveal something quite different. Depending on the stage of ripeness, the olives come in a variety of colors, each with a distinct culinary purpose in mind. Each requires its own process of curing. The ripe black olives are generally salted to extract their juices and left to dry in the sun. This dry-cure technique produces a shriveled, wrinkly olive with a chewy texture. The unripe, or green olives, which have the firmest flesh, are the first to be picked. Usually, they are cured in brine and then seasoned with herbs, chiles, and the famous Moroccan preserved lemon. The lavender variety represents the stage between green and black, still ripening but not fully mature. These beauties, popular in cooked dishes, are referred to as simply tagine olives. The slightly darker purple, still in an in-between stage of ripeness, are sometimes pressed with bitter orange. These olives, in their myriad colors, are lovingly displayed throughout the souks of the country.

Olives for breakfast in the Dades Valley

A typical snack of olives and green tea at a favorite outdoor restaurant in Marrakech

A Chicken tagine, which I prepared at La Maison Arabe Cooking School, with preserved lemons and tagine olives

Interested in visiting Morocco?
Contact me at for details of my next small-group tour of Morocco in October of 2009.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These photos are gorgeous. Olives are magical things!