Manzanilla table olives

Eating olive from olive trees of the Manzanilla, Manzanilla de Sevilla or Manzanillo varieties. The name ("little apple" in Spanish) is due to its shape; it is generally regular and spherical and resembles an apple. It is harvested and consumed in both its green and black (ripe) states. The production area is centered around Seville (Andalusia, Spain), although it is also found in other Spanish regions –mainly in Badajoz, Extremadura (Carrasqueña)– where it is known by different names. Is primarily used as an eating olive, and is perhaps the variety most widely used for this purpose. Owing to its high oil content it is also use for oil production.

Tasting notes

It has a balanced olive taste (bitter-salt) and a fine delicate flavor. It does not have any marked bitterness or aftertaste (the lingering taste after the olive has been eaten). It has no abnormal flavors (alterations or unusual tastes).

Other notes

The Manzanilla or Manzanilla de Sevilla-type olive is heavy (0.14-0.21 oz / 4-6 g), with a rounded apex, a truncated base, and no nipple. It has numerous small lenticels (the structures which ensure the entrance of oxygen and the exchange of gases between the tissues and the exterior). The flesh comes away easily from the pit. Olive oil from the Manzanilla de Sevilla olive is very pleasant on the palate and contains all the nutritional elements of top-quality olive oil. It also favors digestion due to its low content in saturated fats.

Production / Processing method

The Manzanilla –which is considered a table olive– is generally harvested between September and October depending on the area. The subsequent process for transforming this product into an eating olive varies according to whether the end product is a green or black olive.

- Green: The olives are harvested before the ripe stage, and after transport to the processing plant they are given a preliminarily treatment in order to eliminate the bitter taste and to prepare them for subsequent lactic fermentation. This also serves to develop the organoleptic qualities of the fruit. They are then immersed in brine for a period of between two and four months, depending on the type, variety and future presentation of the olive. They are preserved for packaging and commercialization by means of pasteurization in order to destroy all pathogenic and common forms of plant life.

- Black: The olives are harvested once they have ripened, and immediately after reaching the plant they are preserved in brine. Once they have been sorted, they go through a treatment which produces their characteristic color. They are packaged and preserved by heat sterilization.

The Manzanilla olive may also undergo a marinating process. In this case the processed olives, regardless of type, are treated with an alkaline bleach and then subsequently immersed in brine to produce either complete or partial fermentation.

In some cases the olives are ripened "artificially" (off the tree) by means of a brine-curing process which produces total or partial fermentation and the characteristic black coloring.

Geography / Relief and climate

The region of Andalusia has an area of 87,598 km2, and is located in the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula, bordering on Portugal to the west, the Mediterranean Sea and the Region of Murcia to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the south, and the regions of Extremadura (province of Badajoz), Castile-La Mancha (provinces of Ciudad Real and Albacete) and Murcia to the north. It comprises the provinces of Almería (8,775 km2), Cádiz (7,436 km2), Córdoba (13,771 km2), Granada (12,647 km2), Huelva (10,128 km2), Jaén (13.496 km2), Málaga (7.308 km2) and Seville (14,036 km2).

In Andalusia there are three different areas: the Guadalquivir valley, the Sierra Morena, and the Cordillera Bética mountain ranges. The highest peaks in the region are: Mulhacén (11423.8 ft / 3,482 m, in the Sierra Nevada mountains in Granada), Chullo (8559.7 ft / 2,609 m, in the Sierra Nevada in Almería) and Mágina (7109.5 ft / 2,167 m, in the Sierra Mágina in Jaén).

The climate is varied, although always within a Mediterranean climate with a continental or Atlantic influence. The average annual temperature varies widely, with minimum values below 48.2-50 ºF / 9-10ºC in the areas in the Bética ranges (in the interior of the mountainous areas) such as the Sierras de Cazorla and Segura, and the Sierra Nevada, among others, and in the western part of these same mountain ranges –more exposed to the influence of the Atlantic and the Sierra Morena– higher temperatures ranging between 53.6º and 59ºF / 12º and 15ºC. The average temperatures on the Atlantic coast are above 59ºF/ 15ºC, and over 64.4ºF / 18ºC on some points along the Mediterranean coast and in the Guadalquivir valley, reaching 68ºF / 20ºC on the coast of Almería (one of the hottest points in Spain).

The Autonomous Region of Extremadura has an area of 41,581.98 km2 and comprises the provinces of Badajoz (21,714 km2) and Caceres (19,868 km2). It borders on Portugal to the west, the Autonomous Region of Castile–La Mancha (the provinces of Toledo and Ciudad Real) to the east, the Autonomous Region of Castile-León (Avila and Salamanca) to the north, and Andalusia (Huelva, Seville and Cordoba) to the south.

The climate in the province of Badajoz where this variety is grown is continental Mediterranean with an Atlantic influence. In this area the winters are mild and the temperatures may occasionally fall to 32ºF / 0ºC, while in contrast the summers are extremely warm with maximum temperatures of up to 104ºF / 40ºC. The annual average precipitation is 18.7 in / 475 mm. The climate is most unstable in the fall, during which time storms often occur. There is little wind, and frequent mists.

Manzanilla table olives