Pimento-Stuffed Green Olives

Published May 1, 2013. From Cook's Illustrated.

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Pimento-stuffed green olives aren’t just for martinis.

Overview:

Pimento-stuffed green olives aren’t just for martinis. They should also deliver snappy bite and a briny (but balanced) jolt of flavor to vinaigrettes, relishes, and other dishes. But after tasting the best-selling olive varietals from four nationally available brands, both straight from the jar and chopped up in picadillo, we discovered that a good olive is mostly about the other ingredients in the jar. Brines spiked with vermouth and vinegar make olives taste “mouth-puckering” (though cooking mellows the sharpness). Meanwhile, calcium chloride is a good thing, as it strengthens the flesh-firming pectin in the olives, as is salt. Tasters panned the product with the least amount as “bland.” As for varietals, larger Spanish Queen and Sevillano varieties were “meaty” and “juicy”—pluses when snacking that predictably mattered less once the fruit was cut into pieces.

Pimento-stuffed green olives aren’t just for martinis. They should also deliver snappy bite and a briny (but balanced) jolt of flavor to vinaigrettes, relishes, and other dishes. But after tasting the best-selling olive varietals from four nationally available brands, both straight from the jar and chopped up in picadillo, we discovered that a good olive is mostly about the other ingredients in the jar. Brines spiked with vermouth and vinegar make olives taste “mouth-puckering” (though cooking mellows the sharpness). Meanwhile, calcium chloride is a good thing, as it strengthens the flesh-firming pectin in the olives, as is salt. Tasters panned the product with the least amount as “bland.” As for varietals, larger Spanish Queen and Sevillano varieties were “meaty” and “juicy”—pluses when snacking that predictably mattered less once the fruit was cut into pieces.

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  • Product Tested

    Price*

  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Recommended

    Santa Barbara Olive Co. Pimento Martini Olives

    Large Sevillano olives were “juicier” than others, with a pleasing “snappy texture.” The vermouth- and vinegar-spiked brine rendered the fruit a bit too “mouth-puckering” from the jar, but it cooked off in picadillo.

    $4.59 for 5 oz

  • Recommended

    Pearls Pimiento Stuffed Manzanilla Olives

    Midsize Manzanillas made for “bright,” “sweet” snacking olives but lost some of their oomph when simmered: Though the olives were still “briny,” a few tasters found them “one-dimensional.”

    $2.19 for 5.75 oz

  • Recommended with Reservations

    Goya Manzanilla Spanish Olives Stuffed with Minced Pimientos

    Though “buttery,” these smaller Manzanillas had a few strikes against them: lower sodium and, most important, no texture-preserving calcium chloride in the brine. As a result, they were “bland” and “mushy” and “got lost” in picadillo.

    $3.09 for 9.5 oz

*PRICES SUBJECT TO CHANGE
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