So many grocery stores now have olive bars, with big barrels full of olives sold in bulk. They are great when you want a mix to serve as appetizers, and although some people get squeamish about germs (yes, we've seen people use their fingers), we don't tend to.
Recently, though, we picked up a container of pre-packaged, Kalamata olives at a store that didn't have an olive bar. These weren't canned or jarred olives, just bulk olives that had been portioned out and packaged in a plastic tub.
At first, we were annoyed that we were paying for more than we needed. Then we tasted them, and they were the best olives we ever had. Could it be because they weren't sitting out in an olive bar all day?
We used our olives in this Orange, Olive, and Fennel Salad, and we almost ate them all before we finished making the salad. The package didn't say anything special... Just your basic Kalamata olive.
We've never looked into how long olives sit in olive bars or if they lose some oomph by being exposed. We assume, being cured, that they are becoming mellower while sitting in those buckets. This olive primer from Whole Foods says the longer olives are cured, the more complex their flavor.
The pre-packaged ones we bought (from Westside Market, for the record) were juicier and fruitier than any we've had. Maybe they were younger?
Has anyone else experienced this? What is your opinion on olive bars vs. pre-packaged olives?
(Image: Fresh Direct)