Spain offers an estimated 260 different varieties of olives from groves that spread over a considerable expanse the country. While many of these varieties are grown for olive oil there is still a huge selection grown for the table, to be enjoyed as plain black or green olives or stuffed with a variety of tasty fillings as part of a tapas selection.
The Manzanilla olive is perhaps one of the best known Spanish olives. From the small town in Andalusia also famed for its sherry, this is a juicy green olive that is often pitted and stuffed with anchovies, pimento or garlic. This is also the olive most often used in martinis.
The Arbequina olive is a small earthy green olive grown predominantly in Catalonia with a delicate, mild, smoky flavor, very popular as a table olive.
The Empeltre olive is a medium sized Spanish olive of a purplish black color and elongated shape. It is often served soaked in sherry as a special tapas dish. It is also a popular olive for making a black olive spread with a wonderful deep flavor.
The Sevillano or Queen olive has large, plump, round fruit. It is mostly grown for the table rather than for oil and is generally brine cured and stuffed with a variety of fillings.
The Picual olive tree is the predominant variety for olive oil production in many areas of Southern Spain. The large black olives of the younger trees are excellent for curing as table olives with a peppery, firm flesh.
The Hojiblanca olive is mostly used for oil, but has an intense flavor as a table olive, with fruity and peppery overtones and a hint of nuttiness.
The Picolimon olive is round and juicy with a fresh citrus flavor that goes well with many other foods and is great in salads.
The Verdial olive is a large dark olive with a robust flavor, perfect for olive lovers who like a full spicy taste.