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Queen Olives Vs. Manzanilla Olives

Hundreds of varieties of olives are grown worldwide, and some of them are used as table olives.  

Table olives are often harvested while green and brined to achieve the perfect flavor. 

Manzanilla olives and queen olives are among the most well-known Spanish olives popularly used as table olives.  

These Spanish olives are often stuffed with cheese, peppers, or fruits and used as a garnish for martinis, or in sandwiches.  

Manzanilla and queen olives have different features that make them better suited for different dishes.  

In this post, we highlight the difference between both varieties of Spanish olives.

What are queen olives?

queen olives

Also known as “Gordal” or “the fat one,” queen olives are large-sized olives grown mostly in the region of Seville, Spain.  

These olives are considered to be one of the largest types of olives in the world. They are oblong to oval-shaped and have a slightly nutty and salty flavor.  

Queen olives are hand-harvested when they are green between October and November and cured in brine for months, giving them a distinctive briny flavor. 

Gordal olives are highly nutritious, rich in vitamins and fiber.  

Unlike olives used for olive oil production, queen olives are rarely used for this purpose due to their lower oil content.  

The olives have a small but long pit, often filled with pimento.  

Stuffed queen olives are popularly skewered in martinis, adding a unique twist to the classic cocktail.  

These olives are versatile and can be used to flavor various dishes, including tapenade or tapas. They can also be eaten as a snack when seasoned. 

What are manzanilla olives?

Manzanilla olives are primarily grown in the province of Seville and are the most popular Spanish olive variety.  

The name “Manzanilla” translates to “little apple” in English, reflecting the apple-shaped nature of these olives.  

These olives are small to medium-sized, and they have a firm texture and a briny, slightly bitter flavor.  

When unripe, they are green, but as they ripen, they darken in color and develop a milder taste than their green counterparts. 

Harvested while still green, Manzanilla olives undergo a curing process in a solution of water, brine, and lye.  

This process removes oleuropein, the compound responsible for the bitter taste in olives.  

The curing process can affect the texture, color, and flavor of the olives, making them versatile for various culinary applications.  

These olives can be stuffed with peppers, nuts, or cheese and are often used to garnish martinis or incorporated into luncheon meat and antipasto recipes. 

Manzanilla olives also find their way into canned black olives available in grocery stores. 

These olives are rich in antioxidants and healthy fats, they offer a nutritious addition to various dishes.

Difference between queen olives and manzanilla olives

Queen olives are generally larger in size compared to Manzanilla olives. They often have an elongated, oval shape, making them distinctive.  

On the other hand, Manzanilla olives are smaller and rounder, with an apple shape. 

Queen olives are preferred for stuffing due to their larger size and elongated shape, while Manzanilla olives are commonly used in dishes like tapenades.