Monthly Archives: July 2009

Fruit Of The Week Kiwi Fruit

Ayesha's Kitchen

Ayesha's Kitchen

The kiwifruit, often shortened to kiwi, is the edible berry of a cultivar group of the woody vine Actinidia deliciosa and hybrids between this and other species in the genus Actinidia. The Actinidia is native to South of China.

The most common cultivars of kiwifruit are oval, about the size of a large hen’s egg (5–8 cm / 2–3 in long and 4.5–5.5 cm / 1¾–2 in diameter). It has a fibrous, dull brown-green skin and bright green or golden flesh with rows of tiny, black, edible seeds. The fruit has a soft texture and a unique flavour, and today is a commercial crop in several countries, mainly in Italy, China, and New Zealand.

Also known as the Chinese Gooseberry, the fruit was renamed for export marketing reasons in the 1950s; briefly to melonette, and then by New Zealand exporters to kiwifruit. This latter name comes from the kiwi — a flightless bird and New Zealand’s national symbol, and also a colloquial name for the New Zealand people.

Names

This fruit had a long history before it was commercialised as kiwifruit and therefore had many other older names.

Kiwifruit was originally known by its Chinese name, yáng táo (Sunny Peach) or Mihou Tao (Macaque Peach). After it was introduced to New Zealand by evangelist Isabel Fraser, people in New Zealand thought it had a gooseberry flavour and began to call it the Chinese gooseberry, although it is not related to the Grossulariaceae (gooseberry) family.

New Zealand exported the fruit to the United States in the 1950s. Among the exporters was the prominent produce company Turners and Growers, who were calling the berries melonettes, because the name Chinese gooseberry had political connotations due to the Cold War, and to further distinguish it from real gooseberries, which are prone to a fungus called anthracnose. An American importer, Norman Sondag of San Francisco, complained that melonettes was as bad as Chinese gooseberry because melons and berries were both subject to high import tariffs, and instead asked for a short Maori name that quickly connoted New Zealand. In June 1959, during a meeting of Turners and Growers management in Auckland, Jack Turner suggested the name kiwifruit which was adopted and later became the industry-wide name. In the 1960s and 1970s, Frieda Caplan, founder of Los Angeles-based Frieda’s Finest (aka Frieda’s Inc./Frieda’s Specialty Produce) played a key role in popularizing kiwifruit in the United States, convincing supermarket produce managers to carry the odd-looking fruit.

Most New Zealand kiwifruits are now marketed under the brand-name label Zespri which is trademarked by a marketing company domiciled in New Zealand, ZESPRI International. The branding move also served to distinguish New Zealand kiwifruit from fruit produced by other countries who could cash in on the “Kiwi” name, as it was not trademarked.

Cultivars

Almost all kiwifruit in commerce belong to a few cultivars of Actinidia deliciosa: ‘Hayward’, ‘Chico’, and ‘Saanichton 12’. The fruit of these cultivars are practically indistinguishable from each other and match the description of a standard kiwifruit given at the head of this article.

Sliced Golden KiwifruitGold Kiwifruit or “Hinabelle”, with yellow flesh and a sweeter, less acidic flavour resembling a tropical fruit salad, is a new Cultivar Group produced by the New Zealand Crown Research Institute, HortResearch and marketed worldwide in increasing volumes. Some wild vines in India have yellow fruit but are small and not commercially viable. Seeds from these plants were imported to New Zealand in 1987 and the company took 11 years to develop the new fruit through cross-pollination and grafting with green kiwifruit vines. Gold Kiwifruit have a smooth, bronze skin, a pointed cap at one end and distinctive golden yellow flesh with a less tart and more tropical flavour than green kiwifruit. It has a higher market price than green kiwifruit. It is less hairy than the green cultivars, so can be eaten whole after rubbing off the thin, fluffy coat. While the skin of kiwifruit is often removed before serving, it is completely edible.

Nutrition

Kiwifruit is a rich source of vitamin C, 1.5 times the DRI scale in the US. Its potassium content by weight is slightly less than that of a banana. It also contains vitamins A and E. The skin is a good source of flavonoid antioxidants. The kiwifruit seed oil contains on average 62% alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. Usually a medium size kiwifruit contains about 46 calories, 0.3 g fats, 1 g proteins, 11 g carbohydrates, 75 mg vitamins and 2.6 g dietary fiber.

Kiwifruit is often reported to have mild laxative effects, due to the high level of dietary fiber.

Raw kiwifruit is also rich in the protein-dissolving enzyme actinidin, (in the same family of thiol proteases as papain), which is commercially useful as a meat tenderizer but can be an allergen for some individuals. Specifically, people allergic to latex, papayas or pineapples are likely to also be allergic to kiwifruit. The fruit also contains calcium oxalate crystals in the form of raphides. Reactions to these chemicals include sweating, tingling and sore mouth; swelling of the lips, tongue and face; rash; vomiting and abdominal pain; and, in the most severe cases, breathing difficulties, wheezing and collapse. The most common symptoms are unpleasant itching and soreness of the mouth, with the most common severe symptom being wheezing. Severe symptoms are most likely to occur in young children.

This enzyme makes raw kiwifruit unsuitable for use in desserts containing milk or any other dairy products which are not going to be served within hours, because it soon begins to digest milk proteins. This applies to gelatin-based desserts as well, as the actinidin will dissolve the collagen proteins in gelatin very quickly, either liquifying the dessert, or preventing it from solidifying. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests that cooking the fruit for a few minutes before adding it to the gelatin will overcome this effect. Sliced kiwifruit has long been regularly used as a garnish atop whipped cream on New Zealand’s national dessert, the pavlova.

Kiwifruit also serves as a natural blood thinner. A recent study performed at the University of Oslo in Norway reveals that—similar to popular mainstream aspirin therapy—consuming two to three kiwifruit daily for 28 days significantly thins the blood, reducing the risk of clots, and lowers fat in the blood that can cause blockages.

The kiwifruit skin is edible and contains high amounts of fiber. In a fully matured kiwifruit one study showed that this as much as tripled the fiber content of the fruit. In addition, as many of the vitamins are stored immediately under the skin, leaving the skin intact greatly increases the vitamin c consumed by eating a single piece of kiwifruit when compared to eating it peeled. As with all fruit, it is recommended that if eating the skin, the fruit be washed prior to consumption.

Kiwifruit is one of the best natural sources of lutein and zeaxanthin.

Recpes:

Number of recipes For kiwi Fruit can be Found in Ayesha’s Kitchen:

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Vegetable Of The Week CABBAGE

cabbage

The cabbage is a popular cultivar of a the species Brassica oleracea Linne (Capitata Group) of the Family Brassicaceae (or Cruciferae), and is used as a leafy green vegetable. It is a herbaceous, biennial, dicotyledonous flowering plant distinguished by a short stem upon which is crowded a mass of leaves, usually green but in some varieties red or purplish, which while immature form a characteristic compact, globular cluster (cabbagehead).

The plant is also called head cabbage or heading cabbage, and in Scotland a bowkail, from its rounded shape. The Scots call its stalk a castock, and the English call its head a loaf[citation needed]. It is in the same genus as the turnip – Brassica rapa L.

Cabbage leaves often display a delicate, powdery, waxy coating called bloom. The sharp or bitter taste sometimes present in cabbage is due to glucosinolate(s). Cabbages are also a good source of Riboflavin.

History

The cultivated cabbage is derived from a leafy plant called the wild mustard plant, native to the Mediterranean region, where it is common along the seacoast. Also called sea cabbage and wild cabbage, it was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans; Cato the Elder praised this vegetable for its medicinal properties, declaring that “It is the cabbage which surpasses all other vegetables.”  The English name derives from the Normanno-Picard caboche (head), perhaps from boche (swelling, bump). Cabbage was developed by ongoing artificial selection for suppression of the internode length.

Uses

The only part of the plant that is normally eaten is the leafy head; more precisely, the spherical cluster of immature leaves, excluding the partially unfolded outer leaves. Cabbage is used in a variety of dishes for its naturally spicy flavor. The so-called ‘cabbage head’ is widely consumed raw, cooked, or preserved in a great variety of dishes.

Cooked

Cabbage is often added to soups or stews. Cabbage soup is popular in central Europe and eastern Europe, and cabbage is an ingredient in some kinds of borscht. Garbure (from Provençal garburo) is a thick soup of cabbage or other vegetables with bacon. Cabbage may be an ingredient in kugel, a baked pudding served as a side dish or dessert. Cabbage is also used in many popular dishes in India.

Boiling tenderizes the leaves and releases sugars, which leads to the characteristic “cabbage” aroma. Boiled cabbage has become stigmatized because of its strong cooking odor and the belief that it causes flatulence. Boiled cabbage as an accompaniment to meats and other dishes can be an excellent source of vitamins and dietary fiber. It is often prepared and served with boiled meat and other vegetables as part of a boiled dinner. Harold McGee has studied the development of unpleasant smells when cooking brassicas and reports that they develop with prolonged cooking. According to Corriher’s Compendium smell doubles when prolonging cooking from 5 to 7 minutes; for best results cabbage should be sliced thinly and cooked for 4 minutes.

Cabbage rolls, a type of dolma, are an East European and Middle Eastern delicacy. The leaves are softened by parboiling or by placing the whole head of cabbage in the freezer, and then stuffed with a mixture of chopped meat and/or rice. Stuffed cabbage is called holishkes in Yiddish. A vegetable stuffed with shredded cabbage and then pickled is called mango.

Bulgarian CabbageThe largest cabbage dish is made in Macedonian city of Prilep, with 80,191 sarmas (cabbage rolls).

Bubble and squeak consists of potatoes and cabbage or, especially formerly, potatoes, cabbage and meat fried together. Potatoes and cabbage or other greens boiled and mashed together make up a dish called colcannon, an Irish Gaelic word meaning white-headed cabbage, grounded in Old Irish terms for cabbage or kale (cāl), head (cend or cenn) and white (find). In the American South and Midland, corn dodgers were boiled as dumplings with cabbage and ham.

Fermented and Preserved

Cabbage is the basis for the German sauerkraut, Chinese suan cai and Korean kimchi. To pickle cabbage it is cut fine, placed in a jar, covered with a brine made of its own juice with salt, and left in a warm place for several weeks to ferment. Sauerkraut (colloquially referred to simply “kraut”) was historically prepared at home in large batches, as a way of storing food for the winter. The word comes from German sauer (sour) and kraut (plant or cabbage) (Old High German sūr and krūt). Cabbage can also be pickled in vinegar with various spices, alone or in combination with other vegetables. (Turnips can be cured in the same way.) Korean baechu kimchi is usually sliced thicker than its European counterpart, and the addition of onions, chillies, papaya, gin, minced garlic and ginger is common.

Medicinal Properties

Cabbage is an excellent source of Vitamin C. It also contains significant amounts of glutamine, an amino acid which has anti-inflammatory properties. Cabbage can also be included in dieting programs, as it is a negative calorie food.

It is a source of indole-3-carbinol, or I3C, a compound used as an adjuvent therapy for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, a disease of the head and neck caused by human papillomavirus that causes growths in the airway that can lead to death.

In European folk medicine, cabbage leaves are used to treat acute inflammation. A paste of raw cabbage may be placed in a cabbage leaf and wrapped around the affected area to reduce discomfort. Some claim it is effective in relieving painfully engorged breasts in breastfeeding women.

Varieties

There are many varieties of cabbage based on shape and time of maturity. Cabbages grown late in autumn and in the beginning of winter are called coleworts; their leaves do not form a compact head. “Colewort” may also refer to a young cabbage. The word comes from Latin caulis (stalk of a plant, cabbage) and Old English wyrt (herb, plant, root). A drumhead cabbage has a rounded, flattened head. An oxheart cabbage has an oval or conical head. A pickling cabbage, such as the red-leafed cabbage, is especially suitable for pickling; krautman is the most common variety for commercial production of sauerkraut. Red cabbage is a small, round-headed type with dark red leaves. Savoy cabbage has a round, compact head with crinkled and curled leaves. Winter cabbage will survive the winter in the open in mild regions such as the southern United States; the name is also used for Savoy cabbage.

Recipes:

Here in Ayesha’s Kitchen you can Find number of recipes For cabbage:

Pesto Chicken

Pesto Chicken is a very tasty and easy-to-make chicken and it is ideal For weight watchers + patients. A perfect dinner For cold winter nights …

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken size 16 skinless
  • ¼ cup vinegar

FOR PESTO

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 big cloves of garlic
  • 4 green chillies
  • Some salt
  • Some Chinese salt
  • Some black pepper
  • 4 tbspns yogurt

VEGETABLES

  • 2 medium sized potatoes
  • 8 French beans / green beans
  • 2 mushrooms
  • 4 heads of broccoli
  • ½ cup peas
  • 1 carrot

Procedure:

-Wash chicken thoroughly and apply some vinegar on it. Keep aside For some time, minimum 4 hours and then wash again.

-Pat with a clean kitchen towel. Make some deep cuts in breasts and legs.

-In a blender, put all the ingredients of pesto and blend. Now apply this on chicken with your hands. Use your Fingers to apply in cuts.

-Refrigerate over a night.

-Wash and peel potatoes and carrots, trim off the ends of green beans, slice mushrooms and other vegetables.

-In a baking tray, place whole chicken and vegetables and pour the marinade all over. Bake in a preheated oven For an hour or more at 220 degrees Celsius.

-Hot sizzling chicken is ready to be served.

Outcome:

Tasty and different pesto Chicken is ready to be served.

DSC02017

Tips:

-Apply nicely.

Servings:

This will serve 6 persons.

Fruit Of The Week WATERMELON

melon-watermelon

Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum & Nakai, family Cucurbitaceae) refers to both fruit and plant of a vine-like (climber and trailer) herb originally from southern Africa and one of the most common types of melon. This flowering plant produces a special type of fruit known by botanists as a pepo, which has a thick rind (exocarp) and fleshy center (mesocarp and endocarp); pepos are derived from an inferior ovary and are characteristic of the Cucurbitaceae. The watermelon fruit, loosely considered a type of melon (although not in the genus Cucumis), has a smooth exterior rind (green and yellow) and a juicy, sweet, usually red, but sometimes orange, yellow, or pink interior flesh.

History

It is not known when the plant was first cultivated, but Zohary and Hopf note evidence of its cultivation in the Nile Valley from at least as early as the second millennium BC. Finds of the characteristically large seed are reported in Twelfth dynasty sites; numerous watermelon seeds were recovered from the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun,[1] although the existence of the fruit in ancient Egypt is not certain because it is not depicted in any hieroglyphic text nor does any ancient writer mention it. It wasn’t present in any other culture of the ancient Mediterranean.

A closeup of a watermelon leafBy the 10th century AD, watermelons were being cultivated in China, which is today the world’s single largest watermelon producer. By the 13th century, Moorish invaders had introduced the fruit to Europe; and, according to John Mariani’s The Dictionary of American Food and Drink, “watermelon” made its first appearance in an English dictionary in 1615.

In Vietnam, legend holds that watermelon was discovered in Vietnam long before it reached China, in the era of the Hùng Kings. According to legend, watermelon was discovered by Prince Mai An Tiêm, an adopted son of the 11th Hùng King. When he was exiled unjustly to an island, he was told that if he could survive for six months, he would be allowed to return. When he prayed for guidance, a bird flew past and dropped a seed. He cultivated the seed and called its fruit “dưa tây” or western melon, because the birds who ate it flew from the west. When the Chinese took over Vietnam in about 110 BC, they called the melons “dưa hảo” (good melon) or “dưa hấu”, “dưa Tây”, “dưa hảo”, “dưa hấu”—all words for “watermelon”. An Tiêm’s island is now a peninsula in the suburban district of Nga Sơn.

Watermelons on display by a roadside vendor in Delhi, IndiaMuseums Online South Africa list watermelons as having been introduced to North American Indians in the 1500s. Early French explorers found Native Americans cultivating the fruit in the Mississippi Valley. Many sources list the watermelon as being introduced in Massachusetts as early as 1629. Southern food historian John Egerton has said he believes African slaves helped introduce the watermelon to the United States. Texas Agricultural Extension horticulturalist Jerry Parsons lists African slaves and European colonists as having distributed watermelons to many areas of the world. Parsons also mentions the crop being farmed by Native Americans in Florida (by 1664) and the Colorado River area (by 1799). Other early watermelon sightings include the Midwestern states (1673), Connecticut (1747), and the Illiana region (1822).

Charles Fredric Andrus, a horticulturist at the USDA Vegetable Breeding Laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina, set out to produce a disease-resistant and wilt-resistant watermelon. The result was “that gray melon from Charleston.” Its oblong shape and hard rind made it easy to stack and ship. Its adaptability meant it could be grown over a wide geographical area. It produced high yields and was resistant to the most serious watermelon diseases: anthracnose and fusarium wilt.

Today, farmers in approximately 44 states in the U.S. grow watermelon commercially, and almost all these varieties have some Charleston Gray in their lineage. Georgia, Florida, Texas, California and Arizona are the USA’s largest watermelon producers.

This now-common watermelon is often large enough that groceries often sell half or quarter melons. There are also some smaller, spherical varieties of watermelon, both red- and yellow-fleshed, sometimes called “icebox melons.”

In Japan, farmers of the Zentsuji region found a way to grow cubic watermelons, by growing the fruits in glass boxes and letting them naturally assume the shape of the receptacle.[4] The square shape is designed to make the melons easier to stack and store, but the square watermelons are often more than double the price of normal ones. Pyramid shaped watermelons have also been developed.

Nutrition

Fresh watermelon may be eaten in a variety of ways and is also often used to flavor summer drinks and smoothies.

Watermelon contains about six percent sugar by weight, the rest being mostly water. As with many other fruits, it is a source of vitamin C. It is not a significant source of other vitamins and minerals unless one eats several kilograms per day.

The amino acid citrulline was first extracted from watermelon and analysed.  Watermelons contain a significant amount of citrulline and after consumption of several kg an elevated concentration is measured in the blood plasma, this could be mistaken for citrullinaemia or other urea cycle disorder.

Watermelon rinds are also edible, and sometimes used as a vegetable. In China, they are stir-fried, stewed, or more often pickled. When stir-fried, the de-skinned and de-fruited rind is cooked with olive oil, garlic, chili peppers, scallions, sugar and rum. Pickled watermelon rind is also commonly consumed in the Southern US, [8] Russia, Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria.[citation needed] In Balkans, specially Serbia, watermelon slatko is also popular

Watermelon is 92 percent water by weight.

Watermelon is also mildly diuretic.

Watermelons contain large amounts of beta carotene.

Watermelon with red flesh is a significant source of lycopene.

A traditional food plant in Africa, this fruit has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.

Recipes:

You can Find very Few recipes of Watermelon in Ayesha’s Kitchen:

Vegetable Of The Week GREEN BEAN

greenbeans

Green beans (American English), French beans or runner beans (British English) are the unripe fruit of any kind of bean, including the yardlong bean, the hyacinth bean, the winged bean, and especially the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), whose pods are also usually called string beans in the northeastern United States, but can also go by snap beans.

Green bean varieties have been bred especially for the fleshiness, flavor, or sweetness of their pods. Haricots verts, French for “green beans,” may refer to a longer, thinner type of green beans than the typical, American green beans.

The first “stringless” bean was bred in 1894 by Calvin Keeney, called the “father of the stringless bean.” Keeney worked in Le Roy, New York.

Cultivation

Green beans are found in two major groups, bush beans and pole beans. Bush beans are short plants, growing to approximately two feet in height, without requiring supports. They generally reach maturity and produce all of their fruit in a relatively short period of time, then cease to produce. Gardeners may grow more than one crop of bush beans in a season.

Culinary Use

Green beans are of nearly universal distribution. They are marketed canned, frozen and fresh.

Green beans are often steamed, stir-fried, or baked in casseroles. A dish with green beans popular in the southern United States, particularly at Thanksgiving, is green bean casserole. Some restaurants in the USA serve green beans that are battered and fried. Green beans are also sold dried and fried with vegetables like carrots, corn, and radishes.

Green beans are also rich in vitamin C.

Recipes:

In Ayesha’s Kitchen there are Few recipes, in which I have used green beans as a side salad item:

Baked Chicken Leg Pieces

Baked Chicken With Vegetables

Fruit Of The Week ROCKMELON

rockmelon

Cantaloupe (also cantaloup, muskmelon or rockmelon) refers to two varieties of (Cucumis melo), which is a species in the family Cucurbitaceae (a family which includes nearly all melons and squashes). Cantaloupes range in size from 0.5 kg to 5.0 kg. Originally cantaloupe referred only to the non-netted oranged fleshed melons of Europe, however in more recent usage it has come to mean any oranged fleshed melon.

Rockmelons By Regions

The European cantaloupe is Cucumis melo cantalupensis. It is lightly ribbed, with a gray-green skin that looks quite different from that of the North American cantaloupe.

The North American cantaloupe, common in the United States and in some parts of Canada, is Cucumis melo reticulatus (or sometimes C. melo var. cantalupensis), a different member of the same muskmelon species. It is named reticulatus due to its net-like (or reticulated) skin covering. In Australia and New Zealand, it is called rockmelon due to the rock-like appearance of the skin of the fruit. It is called a spanspek or sweet melon in South Africa, where it is harvested during the summer months October through February. It is a round melon with firm, orange, moderately-sweet flesh and a thin reticulated light-brown rind. Varieties with redder and yellower flesh exist but are not common in the U.S market.

Origin

The cantaloupe originated in India and Africa.

Cantaloupes were originally cultivated by the Egyptians and later the Greeks and Romans.

Cantaloupes were first introduced to North America by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World in 1494. The W. Atlee Burpee Company developed and introduced the “Netted Gem” in 1881 from varieties then growing in North America.

Production And Use

Choosing a ripe melon depends on the preferences of the individual. For a heavy musk flavor and softer flesh look for an Eastern Shipper with a strong yellow color, no stem (peduncle) attached, and a strong musk odor. For a sweeter, crisper melon look for a Western shipper without stem (peduncle) and a mild musk odor. For a very sweet melon with little or no musk choose a fruit that has the stem still on the fruit and no aroma.

Cantaloupe is normally eaten as a fresh fruit, as a salad, or as a dessert with ice cream or custard. Melon pieces wrapped in prosciutto are a familiar modern antipasto. Sanjeev Kapoor describes the charentais variety: “the orange, sugary and fragrant flesh makes this fruit popular both as a dessert or main course. These have smooth gray-green rinds and very fragrant orange flesh. It keeps well when stored in a cool, dry place and ripens after several days in a warm room.

Because the surface of a cantaloupe can contain harmful bacteria—in particular, salmonella [5]—it is always a good idea to wash a melon thoroughly before cutting and consumption. Optimum preparation procedures Only store the fruit after cutting for less than three days to prevent risk of Salmonella or other bacterial pathogens.

A moldy cantaloupe in a Peoria, Illinois market in 1941 was found to contain the best and highest quality penicillin after a worldwide search.

Recipes

You can Find number of different recipes in Ayesha’s Kitchen:

Vegetable Of The Week OLIVE

olives

The Olive (Olea europaea) is a species of a small tree in the family Oleaceae, native to the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean Basin, from Lebanon, Syria and the maritime parts of Turkey and northern Iran at the south end of the Caspian Sea. Its fruit, the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the Mediterranean region as the source of olive oil.

Description

The olive tree is an evergreen tree or shrub native to the Mediterranean, Asia and parts of Africa. It is short and squat, and rarely exceeds 8–15 meters in height. The silvery green leaves are oblong in shape, measuring 4–10 cm long and 1–3 cm wide. The trunk is typically gnarled and twisted.

The small white flowers, with ten-cleft calyx and corolla, two stamens and bifid stigma, are borne generally on the last year’s wood, in racemes springing from the axils of the leaves.

The fruit is a small drupe 1–2.5 cm long, thinner-fleshed and smaller in wild plants than in orchard cultivars. Olives are harvested at the green stage or left to ripen to a rich purple colour (black olive). Canned black olives may contain chemicals that turn them black artificially.

Cultivation And Uses

A selection of olives in a market in Tel Aviv, IsraelThe olive tree has been cultivated since ancient times as a source of olive oil, fine wood, olive leaf, and olives for consumption. The naturally bitter fruit is typically subjected to fermentation or cured with lye or brine to make it more palatable.

Green olives and black olives are washed thoroughly in water to remove oleuropein, a bitter carbohydrate. Sometimes they are also soaked in a solution of food grade sodium hydroxide in order to accelerate the process.

Green olives are allowed to ferment before being packed in a brine solution. American black (“California”) olives are not fermented, which is why they taste milder than green olives.

It is not known when olives were first cultivated for harvest. Among the earliest evidence for the domestication of olives comes from the Chalcolithic Period archaeological site of Teleilat Ghassul in what is today modern Jordan.

Farmers in ancient times believed olive trees would not grow well if planted more than a short distance from the sea; Theophrastus gives 300 stadia (55.6 km) as the limit. Modern experience does not always confirm this, and, though showing a preference for the coast, it has long been grown further inland in some areas with suitable climates, particularly in the southwestern Mediterranean (Iberia, northwest Africa) where winters are mild.

Olive plantation in Andalucia, SpainOlives are now cultivated in many regions of the world with Mediterranean climates, such as South Africa, Chile, Australia, the Mediterranean Basin, Israel, Palestinian Territories and California and in areas with temperate climates such as New Zealand, under irrigation in the Cuyo region in Argentina which has a desert climate. They are also grown in the Córdoba Province, Argentina, which has a temperate climate with rainy summers and dry winters (Cwa). The climate in Argentina changes the external characteristics of the plant but the fruit keeps its original characteristics.

Considerable research supports the health-giving benefits of consuming olives, olive leaf and olive oil (see external links below for research results). The olive tree provides leaves, fruit and oil. Olive leaves are used in medicinal teas.

Olives are now being looked at for use as a renewable energy source, using waste produced from the olive plants as an energy source that produces 2.5 times the energy generated by burning the same amount of wood. The smoke released has no negative impact on neighbors or the environment, and the ash left in the stove can be used for fertilizing gardens and plants. The process has been patented in the Middle East and the US.

Growth And Propagation

Olive trees show a marked preference for calcareous soils, flourishing best on limestone slopes and crags, and coastal climate conditions. They tolerate drought well, thanks to their sturdy and extensive root system. Olive trees can be exceptionally long-lived, up to several centuries, and can remain productive for as long, provided they are pruned correctly and regularly.

The olive tree grows very slowly, but over many years the trunk can attain a considerable diameter. A. P. de Candolle recorded one exceeding 10 m in girth. The trees rarely exceed 15 m in height, and are generally confined to much more limited dimensions by frequent pruning. The yellow or light greenish-brown wood is often finely veined with a darker tint; being very hard and close-grained, it is valued by woodworkers.

The olive is propagated in various ways, but cuttings or layers are generally preferred; the tree roots easily in favourable soil and throws up suckers from the stump when cut down. However, yields from trees grown from suckers or seeds are poor; it must be budded or grafted onto other specimens to do well (Lewington and Parker, 114). Branches of various thickness cut into lengths of about 1 m and planted deeply in manured ground, soon vegetate. Shorter pieces are sometimes laid horizontally in shallow trenches and, when covered with a few centimetres of soil, rapidly throw up sucker-like shoots. In Greece, grafting the cultivated tree on the wild form is a common practice. In Italy, embryonic buds, which form small swellings on the stems, are carefully excised and planted beneath the surface, where they grow readily, their buds soon forming a vigorous shoot. 

Occasionally the larger boughs are marched, and young trees thus soon obtained. The olive is also sometimes raised from seed, the oily pericarp being first softened by slight rotting, or soaking in hot water or in an alkaline solution, to facilitate germination.

Where the olive is carefully cultivated, as in Languedoc and Provence, the trees are regularly pruned. The pruning preserves the flower-bearing shoots of the preceding year, while keeping the tree low enough to allow the easy gathering of the fruit. The spaces between the trees are regularly fertilized. The crop from old trees is sometimes enormous, but they seldom bear well two years in succession, and in many instances a large harvest can only be reckoned upon every sixth or seventh season.

A calcareous soil, however dry or poor, seems best adapted to its healthy development, though the tree will grow in any light soil, and even on clay if well drained; but, as remarked by Pliny, the plant is more liable to disease on rich soils, and the oil is inferior to the produce of the poorer and more rocky ground.

In general, a temperature below 14 °F (-10 °C) may cause considerable injury to a mature tree, but (with the exception of juvenile trees) a temperature of 16 °F (-9 °C) will normally cause no harm.

Harvest And Processing

Olives are harvested in the fall. More specifically, green olives are picked at the end of September to about the middle of November. Blond olives are picked from the middle of October to the end of November and Black olives are collected from the middle of November to the end of January or early February. Some Italian and Greek olives are harvested by hand, as the terrain can be mountainous which inhibits harvesting by machine. As a result, the fruit is not bruised which leads to a superior finished product. Furthermore, the fact that branches are sawn off as part of the method of hand harvesting ensures the health of the tree for future production.

Most olives today are harvested by shaking the boughs or the whole tree. Another method involves standing on a ladder and “milking” the olives into a sack tied around the harvester’s waist. Using olives found lying on the ground can result in poor quality oil.

In southern Europe the olive harvest is in winter, continuing for several weeks, but the time varies in each country, and also with the season and the kinds cultivated. A device called the oli-net wraps around the trunk of the tree and opens to form an umbrella-like catcher; workers can then harvest the fruit without the weight of the load around their neck. Another device, the oliviera, is an electric tool that connects to a battery. The oliviera has large tongs that are spun around quickly, removing fruit from the tree. This method is used for olives used for oil. Table olive varieties are more difficult to harvest, as workers must take care not to damage the fruit; baskets that hang around the worker’s neck are used.

The amount of oil contained in the fruit differs greatly in the various cultivars; the pericarp is usually 60–70% oil. Typical yields are 1.5-2.2 kg of oil per tree per year.

Traditional Fermentation And Curing

With one exception (Thassos Olives), olives are inedible when picked from the tree. This is due to the glucoside in their flesh, which makes them taste extremely bitter. To remove this glucoside and render the olive edible, the fruit must be cured.

Olives freshly picked from the tree contain phenolic compounds and oleuropein, a glycoside which makes the fruit unpalatable for immediate consumption. There are many ways of processing olives for table use. Traditional methods use the natural microflora on the fruit and procedures which select for those that bring about fermentation of the fruit. This fermentation leads to three important outcomes: the leaching out and breakdown of oleuropein and phenolic compounds; the creation of lactic acid, which is a natural preservative; and a complex of flavoursome fermentation products. The result is a product which will store with or without refrigeration.

One basic fermentation method is to get food grade containers, which may include plastic containers from companies which trade in olives and preserved vine leaves. Many bakeries also recycle food grade plastic containers which are well sized for olive fermentation; they are 10 to 20 litres in capacity. Freshly picked olives are often sold at markets in 10 kg trays. Olives should be selected for their firmness if green and general good condition. Olives can be used green, ripe green (which is a yellower shade of green, or green with hints of colour), through to full purple black ripeness. The olives are soaked in water to wash them, and drained. 7 litres (which is 7 kg) of room temperature water is added to the fermentation container, and 800 g of sea salt, and one cup (300 g) of white vinegar (white wine or cider vinegar). The salt is dissolved to create a 10% solution (the 800 g of salt is in an 8 kg mixture of salt and water and vinegar). Each olive is given a single deep slit with a small knife (if small), or up to three slits per fruit (if large, e.g., 60 fruit per kg). If 10 kg of olives are added to the 10% salt solution, the ultimate salinity after some weeks will be around 5 to 6% once the water in the olives moves into solution and the salt moves into the olives. The olives are weighed down with an inert object such as a plate so they are fully immersed and lightly sealed in their container. The light sealing is to allow the gases of fermentation to escape. It is also possible to make a plastic bag partially filled with water, and lay this over the top as a venting lid which also provides a good seal. The exclusion of oxygen is useful but not as critical as when grapes are fermented to produce wine. The olives can be tasted at any time as the bitter compounds are not poisonous, and oleuropein is a useful antioxidant in the human diet.

The olives are edible within 2 weeks to a month, but can be left to cure for up to three months. Green olives will usually be firmer in texture after curing than black olives.

There are several methods via which olives can be cured: lye-curing, salt-curing, brine-curing and fresh water-curing. Lye-curing, an unnatural method, is the one resulting in the worst taste as it leeches much of the fruits’ flavor. Salt-curing (also known as dry-curing) involves packing the olives in plain salt for minimum of a month, which produces a salty and wrinkled olive. Olives are placed in a water and salt solution for a few days or more as a part of the of brine-curing process. Fresh-water curing involves soaking the olives in a succession of baths, of which the water is changed daily.

Olives can be flavoured by soaking them in various marinades, or removing the pit and stuffing them. Herbs, spices, olive oil, feta, capsicum (pimento), chili, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic cloves, wine, vinegar, juniper berries, and anchovies are popular flavourings. Sometimes the olives are lightly cracked with a hammer or a stone to trigger fermentation. This method of curing adds a slightly bitter taste.

Recipes:

Olives are basically used in Pizza toppings, pastas, salads or sandwiches and burgers. So in Ayesha’s Kitchen a huge number of recipes are given which contains mushrooms: