Find the etiquette rules on how to serve and eat olives and tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What olives etiquette is

Olives etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat olives. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve olives to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat olives at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat olives

What you should know about olives

Olives are the fruit of the olive tree, which is native to the Mediterranean region.

Olives come in a range of colors from green to black, and their texture ranges from firm to soft. The flavor of olives can be salty, briny, tangy, or even slightly sweet.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat olives

1) How to store olives

The ideal temperature to store olives is between 35-45°F (2-7°C). In the pantry, store olives in airtight containers for up to a month. In the fridge, they can last for up to 6 months. If you freeze them, they can last for up to a year.

Store sliced or cooked olives in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.

2) How to clean olives

To clean olives, simply rinse them in cool water. There are no major risks associated with cleaning olives.

You can tell when olives have turned bad by their texture and smell. They may become mushy and have a sour or unpleasant odor.

3) How to prepare & cook olives

Olives can be eaten raw or cooked. To prepare olives for cooking, remove the pit and slice or chop them as desired. Common utensils for preparing olives include a knife, cutting board, and colander. Olives are common in Mediterranean dishes such as pizza, pasta, and salads.

Some popular dishes that feature olives include Greek salad, tapenade, and pizza.

Olives are great in salads and sandwiches. They can also be used to make juice, smoothies, jam, and preserves. Olives are suitable for guests on vegan, keto, or paleo diets.

4) How to serve & present olives

Olives are appropriate for any occasion. You can serve them as a side dish, appetizer, or main course. They are suitable for breakfast, brunch, snacks, or dessert.

To serve olives to guests, present them in a bowl or plate at room temperature. A small fork or toothpick can be used to pick up the olives. A special olive bowl with a separate compartment for the pits is a nice touch.

Accompany olives with bread, crackers, cheese, or fruit. Common seasonings include olive oil, garlic, lemon, and oregano.

5) Food and wine to pair olives with

Olives pair well with flavors such as garlic, lemon, and oregano. They also go well with vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, as well as fruits like oranges and grapes. Vegetables and fruits to avoid pairing with olives include those with high acidity like pineapple.

Olives pair well with a variety of cheeses and dairy products, including feta, goat cheese, and ricotta. Avoid pairing olives with strongly flavored cheeses like blue cheese.

Olives pair well with meats like lamb, chicken, and beef. They also go well with fish like tuna and cod. Avoid pairing olives with overly sweet or fatty meats.

Olives pair well with red and white wines, including Chianti and Sauvignon Blanc. Avoid pairing olives with overly sweet or oaky wines.

6) How to eat olives

It is polite to eat olives with your fingers. It is not necessary to discard the peel.

You should discard the pits. Remove the pits from your mouth using either a fork or your fingers. Use your other hand to cover your mouth while you remove the pit. Discard the pits on a side of your plate. Never spit out the pits.

Olives etiquette: the worst mistakes

Avoid the most common olive etiquette mistakes:

  • 7/10. Using your fingers to grab too many olives at once.
  • 6/10. Serving olives too cold.
  • 6/10. Serving olives in a dish that is too small.

Additional information for properly serving olives

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

A serving of olives (5-6 olives) contains approximately 25-30 calories. 100 grams of olives contains around 115-145 calories, depending on the type.

How to buy the best olives

A crucial factor in olives etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Olives are available all year round, but the best season to buy them is from November to February.

Choose the best

Olives are commonly found in commerce in various forms, including fresh, canned, jarred, dried, and pickled. They can also be found stuffed with various fillings or marinated in different types of oils or herbs.

Some of the most popular varieties of olives in commerce include Kalamata, Manzanilla, Nicoise, Castelvetrano, and Cerignola. Kalamata olives are from Greece and have a deep purple color, while Manzanilla olives are from Spain and have a green color. Nicoise olives are from France and have a small size and strong flavor, while Castelvetrano olives are from Italy and have a bright green color and mild flavor. Cerignola olives are from Italy and are known for their large size and meaty texture. The most prized olives can vary depending on personal preference and culinary traditions.

When buying olives, look for ones that are plump, shiny, and free of wrinkles or blemishes. Olives that are sold in jars or cans should be packed in brine or oil, which helps to preserve their freshness and flavor. If buying olives from a deli or olive bar, look for ones that are stored in clean and well-maintained containers. Additionally, ask for a sample to taste the olives before purchasing to ensure they meet your expectations.

Alternatives to olives

Some common alternatives to olives include capers, pickles, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, and roasted red peppers. These ingredients can add similar tangy and salty flavors to dishes but have distinct tastes and textures of their own.