Greek Olive Types

Greece is famous for a spectrum of fine olives, which are prepared with minimal processing. Most of these varieties are ancient and one can discover trees that are more than 2,000 years old. Some of these ancient olive trees can be found on the island of Crete. The most famous and possibly the oldest one is the olive tree of Vouves (Crete), estimated at over 3,000 years old. It still produces olives which are highly prized.

Beautiful Olive Tree in Greece


There are literally thousands of kinds of Greek Olives, usually named after the areas in which they are grown. Examples include Kalamon and Halkidiki. Most of these varieties are either exclusively oil or table olives. However, there are a few varieties that can be processed both as table olives and pressed for oil.

Whether brined, marinated, turned into olive oil, or included in a dish, Greek cuisine would not be the same without this Superfoods. Ranging from the bitter to the smooth and differing in color from deep purple to vibrant yellows and greens, Greece has been blessed with these gifts of Nature.


  • Green olives: Harvested at the earliest stages of maturity

  • “Pink” olives:  Harvested prior to reaching full maturityRed Olives and Orange Slices on White Plate

  •  Black olives: Harvested at full maturity

As might be seen, the main difference between these table olive types is ripeness. Unripe olives are green, whereas fully ripe olives are black. “Pink” olives are harvested (a bit) prior to reaching full maturity. Olives are cured or pickled before consumption, using various methods including oil-cured, water-cured, brine-cured, etc.



Beautiful Black Olives in White Bowl

KALAMATA BLACK OLIVES are probably the most well-known Greek olives. These Black olives are harvested when fully ripened. The best Kalamata olives are cured in a red-wine vinegar brine. These olives are served well as a tapenade spread or as an ingredient in a Greek salad. Read more…


Black, Wrinkled Olives in Glass Bowl

WRINKLED BLACK OLIVES  in Greece mostly come from the island of Thassos. These olives are fully mature olives that are not picked. Instead, nets are placed under the trees and the olives are caught in the nets when fully ripe. Wrinkling is their natural state.  They are meaty with a strong olive taste.  Favorite ways to serve them are with Greek potato salad,  drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano.


Olive Tree Branch with Green Olives

SMALL CRETAN GREEN OLIVES are also called elitses, which means – tiny olives in the Greek language. The formal name is koroneiki. These Cretan olives are also cultivated in Messinia, on the Peloponnese peninsula, and Zakynthos Island. When green, small quantities are harvested as table olives. When black and ripe (in December /or January) they are almost exclusively harvested for the production of olive oil. Most of these table olives are consumed in Greece, never reaching western markets.


Green Olives stuffed with Red Peppers


HALKIDIKI (CHALKIDIKI) GREEN OLIVES are large, pale green Greek olives. Their large size enables easy stuffing. Common stuffings include dried tomatoes, almonds, and blue cheese. They are usually processed through brine curing which gives the olives a firmer meat texture. The olive has a soft flavor with a little tartness and a note of pepper. These Olives grows exclusively in Greece in the Halkidiki region.


Green Olives in a White Ceramic Bowl

NAFPLION GREEN OLIVES grow in the valley of Argos, in the Peloponnese peninsula. They are small, light green olives, cracked before being cured in brine. These olives have a consistent, crunchy texture. Nafplion olives are harvested at the beginning of the season -in October. These are best served as a table olive, sprinkled with olive oil, lemon juice, and a sprig of fresh dill. Nafplion olives are rarely known outside of Greece.


Olive branch with Red Olives

KALAMATA RED OLIVES: Kalamata olives are normally picked when they are fully ripened in December. These olives can also be picked earlier – in November. When they are picked early and not fully ripened they are known as “pink” /or red olives for their lighter appearance.


My  No1 Greek Black Olives (on and off-line) are  Kalamata’s. Read more…

When it comes to  Greek Green Olives online, Organic Pitted Green Olives by Divina (10,2 ounce) could be a good choice. But, if you happen to stay in Greece for a holiday, business, or any other reason, I’d encourage you to try different  Green olives either home-made or collected and processed by local brands. Read more about Green Olive Health Benefits…

Organic Pitted Green Olives by Divina (10,2 ounce) – Choose your N01 Green Olive

Organic Pitted Green Olives by Divina –  reasons to order these Amazing Green olives online:


– High-quality Superfoodsawesome flavor

– Organic food (No pesticides, coloring or additives)

– Healthy snack: Great snack especially for those on the Low Carb, Keto or Med Diet (read more…) 

– Great in a salad, meal, pasta, pizza, etc.

– In drinks, too:  martinis & various cocktails


  • Price

  • Packing – not convenient for work or travel

Read more…

Great snack!
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Organic Pitted Green Olives by Divina (10,2 ounce) is a high-quality Superfoods, with awesome flavor. It is a great snack for your Healthy Diet!

Place to buy:

My rating: 88 out of 100

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16 thoughts on “Greek Olive Types”

  1. I found this article very interesting. I like the sound of the med food diet. It sounds so good for you. I hate cooking, but I think by introducing simple things like the olives into the day can be a good start. What else can you recommend for weight loss?

    • Hi Ruth,

      there are simple steps to follow in order to eat healthily. If you don’t like cooking very much – no problem. You can eat more fresh food, like fruit, vegetables, and healthy snacks. However… there are extremely beneficial types of food that cannot be eaten raw/uncooked, like legumes, tubers, fish, seafood, meat…

      You can read more about the Mediterranean diet and its secrets here:
      Thank you for your interest in Med Diet

  2. Hi Vesna!

    What a great topic and post!

    Olives are a great food item. We have it a lot of it in Croatia as well. I am using olives very often in my diet. There are many ways available of using olives.

    I am sure Greek olives taste great as well.

    Thanks for sharing.


    • Hello Igor,

      I know that Croatia has both excellent olives and olive oils. I used to spend my summer holidays in Croatia (Dubrovnik, Cavtat, island Hvar) a long time ago However, I live in Greece and have the opportunity to taste and enjoy too many different olives, EVOOs, as well as other amazing Mediterranean (Greek) food And… I’m happy to share this experience with my blog post readers.

      Thank you for your nice comment!

  3. I am always fascinated to read about the different varieties of olives as I tend to eat them every day. One question, in Greece, what is the most popular way of preparing olives, in brine or red wine vinegar?
    Here where I live in Southern California (Temecula), there are many olive trees, but they concentrate more on producing olive-oil. In fact, there are several tasting bars here as well.
    Thank you for that added fact about the 3000-year-old tree still producing fruit! I think that may even warrant a trip to Greece just to see that tree!

    • Thank you, Colleen!:)

      Regarding your question, there are too many different olive varieties and ways of preparing olives, I can not say which one is the most popular. I guess – in brine… I know many people who have their own, home-made olives, mostly prepared in brine.

      And… I’m glad that you liked this famous olive tree fact I plan to visit Crete too. Looking forward to seeing that tree!

    • Thank you, Jennifer! Most people don’t realize it. These (red/”pink”) olives are pretty rare on market. That’s why the majority of people think there are only two olive types: green and black.
      Best regards!

  4. Love the post! I love olives and I had no idea their color had to do with the ripeness. This is so cool! Are Kalamata olives from a specific region is Greece? Is that why they are called Kalamata, which are my favorite by the way. I also love the large green olives that are usually served with a Martini. I’m not sure what those are called though.

    • Hello Curtis,

      You’re right, Kalamata olives are from the southern part of Peloponnese. These black olives are called either Kalamata, after the city, or Kalamon, after the variety of olive tree. Regarding green olives that are served with a Martini: they are larger and (usually) stuffed green olives. The olive type/variety doesn’t play a significant role.
      If you have any other question, please, feel free to ask.

  5. Around 10 years ago I hated the thought of Olives or olive oil for that matter,
    but how times have changed because you can’t beat olives and bread.

    Living in the UK means we have to accept whatever we can get our hands on and so we are not blessed with great produce.

    I wasn’t aware of the 3 process stages.

    I remember a time when I worked in Switzerland and the daily markets were filled with different type of olives that you could try before you purchased.

    Who would have thought to go to Amazon?

    Certainly learned about olives today.

    Thanks for the post, I really enjoyed it

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Mick You say that in Switzerland you were able to try different types of olives before you purchased. In Greece, it was and still is a common practice to try olives (if you wish, of course) before purchasing, whether in Supermarkets or at farmers markets.

      Agree with you regarding buying food on Amazon…. Really, who would have thought to go to Amazon?:)
      Thanks again!

  6. I love your website! I’m Greek and of course have been eating the Mediterranean diet all my life. It’s impressive how the olive tree in Crete is that old and still produces olives!

    My favorite is the Kalamata olive and I always have a supply, eating them with every meal no matter what it is.

    I’ve learned alot about all the different types here, my parents buy many varieties and now I know a little bit more about those. Thanks for the great article, I’ll be checking out more.


    • Hello Patsy,

      It’s normal that you know a little bit more about Med Diet than other people, due to your Greek origin. I love Kalamata olives, but, it doesn’t mean that I don’t buy other varieties as well (like your parents do). I love to discover new flavors and always search for new ideas for my Greek plates.

  7. Very tasteful post. I felt like having olives just now… Impossible – it is almost midnight in my place.
    On a serious note: very informative and well-structured post. I like descriptions of different types of Greek olives and the respective pictures attached.
    I am wondering how raw olives are used? I like olives and usually, I add them to salads. Most probably, there are more ways to use olives in our diet,
    Nice post. Thank you for sharing.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the read, Nadja:)
      Regarding your interesting question: Raw or fresh olives are naturally very bitter; to make them palatable, olives must be cured and fermented (you cannot eat raw olives). The curing process may take from a few days, with lye, to a few months with brine or salt packing. I hope my answer helped. Thanks!


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