Olives are such a wonderful fruit and so 'complete' in what they can offer! I previously wrote a post here about collecting and preparing olives to be eaten at the table, but the olive tree and olives offer so much more.
Olives have existed here since the time of Ancient Greece and one Greek myth actually attributes the founding of Athens to an olive tree that sprung from a barren rock at the bidding of Athena, during a competition with Poseidon as to who would be the protector of Athens. They are hardy trees and there is an olive tree in Crete which has been determined to be over 2000 years old.
The word olive is derived from the Latin "oliva", which came from the Greek "elaia" and the Mycenaean Greek e-ra-wa ("elaiva").The word oil is also ultimately derived from the name of the tree and its fruit.
From the olive tree we can get the following -
- 'Table' olives. These are the olives we eat and perhaps the best-known variety is the 'Kalamata' olive - the fleshy black olive - though there are several varieties.
- Oil. Other varieties of olives are collected and put through olive presses to produce olive oil.
- Fuel. The waste from the process of producing the oil can be used to produce fuel - the waste is compressed, processed and sold as blocks.
- Compost. Olive leaves make wonderful compost.
- Olive oil products. There are several health and beauty products made from olive oil.
- Log fires. The wood from olive trees burns very well on fires.
- Wood products. The wood is carved into decorative products.
This is why I said at the beginning of the post that the olive tree is a 'complete' product. It is also almost completely self-sufficient and extremely hardy and long-living.
You can also check out our recipes for Olive Bread and Olive Pitta Bread!