Olive Tasting – Sensory Experience

Olives are etched in Israel’s history, with olive oil being an important ancient export. In conjunction with my life cycle of an olive tree, I decided to do a small sensory experience with three different types of olives found in most grocery stores (I’d love to be more eclectic, but I’m limited with what is available at my local King Soupers, lol!)


Kalamata Olive – this olive actually originates from Greece, and is a large black or brown olive with a smooth, meaty texture named after the city of Kalamata in Greece. It is harvested when mature, allowing it to have a dark color.

Manzanilla Olive – This olive is commonly produced in Spain, and is a smaller variety with a firm textured meat providing a slight almond flavor and may be a little bitter or smoky tasting. This olive is picked much earlier in the ripening cycle, thus its green color, and allowed to ferment during the preserving process, giving it an unique flavor. This olive is usually pitted, and stuffed with garlic or pimento.

Black Olives – This olive is referred to as an “artificial” ripened olive, processed without any fermentation process. Most commonly produced in California, USA., they turn black due to the a soaking process which turns the fruit black in an artificial process that mimics natural ripening. Once fully oxidised (blackened), they are brined and acid corrected. 

Raw or fresh olives are naturally very bitter, and to make them palatable, olives must be cured and/or fermented. I discussed with my oldest how I had tried a raw olive once when I was in California as a child, and it was horrible. I hope to allow her the same experience one of these days.


We discussed what made these olives different:

  • How do they look? Black, Green and Dark Red.
  • How do they feel? Soft, Hard, Smooth.
  • How do they smell? Salty, Strong.
  • How do they taste? My preschooler thought the Kalamata was “yucky” the Manzanilla was “salty” and the Black was “good!”


My toddler didn’t really weigh in on this activity, as she was too busy eating all the black olives and putting them on her fingers, haha.

I wish I had real olives from Israel to experience, but for a preschool level, tasting grocery olives was fun too! 🙂



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