Main content


The fruit of the olive tree, an ancient tree whose origins lie in the eastern Mediterranean, most likely Phoenicia (present day Lebanon), and which was first cultivated some 3,000 years ago for fruit and oil, eaten and burnt in lamps. Today, olives are still grown around the Mediterranean and, increasingly, in North and South America and Australia. Unless left in the sun to ripen and cure naturally, olives must be treated to rid them of their bitterness. There are hundreds of varieties of olives grown around the world, often, confusingly, with different regional names for the same variety.