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I tried some black olive on the pizza from a USA style pizza shop and it taste really bad. Given that it is praised as a really good stuff I am wondering if it is a matter of taste or the black olive also have some grading.

What should a good black olive taste like?

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I'm not sure many people like their first olive. Just try them at every opportunity and with some degree of certainty I can say one day you'll just start loving them. –  vwiggins Oct 9 '12 at 7:05
    
'good' black olive is subjective -- there are the people who love the salt packed ones, which I think are completely foul. Of course, those don't tend to be used on pizza. Black olives in general don't tend to have the fruity notes that you may find in green olives. (crap ... I think I've eaten too many olives) –  Joe Oct 10 '12 at 13:51
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2 Answers

Some black olives are not black olives, meaning they are not ripe, but instead green olives that have been made black through a certain treatment with lye and ferrous gluconate. The former for ripening them and the latter for fixing the color. If you compare the two, you'll notice quite a difference in colour and taste.

Too black olives

Black (ripe) olives does not look like this ...

Ripe olives

But rather like this. Notice how the colour is more towards a brown or dark burgundy and also varies between olives.

These olives are also not pitted, and you will find that pitted olives often will have lower overall quality (not being real black olives e.g.) and having a slight aftertaste of cardboard.

In short: Yes. At least here in Sweden it is a lot easier to find bad olives than good ones.

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Even in Spain, one of the biggest olive producers in the world, it's easier to find the 'mild' ones. –  BaffledCook Oct 13 '12 at 7:09
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Olives are naturally bitter and often fermented in brine to give a salty flavour - so they should taste bitter and salty.

American black ("California") olives are not fermented, which is why they taste milder. If you've never had European (fermented) olives then you'll notice a bit of a kick. It may be that you've never had non-fermented olives and the flavour was just new to you. Olives are an acquired taste.

Also, given that olives are either preserved in brine or fermented they're not likely to go bad for many years. They should keep at least a year, unrefigerated.

Read more about the fermenting process here.

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Which are the unfermented ones - American or European? –  Peter Taylor Oct 9 '12 at 14:01
    
The OP asked about US style pizza which, assuming it was like the widespread average American pizza, means it was the mild kind. –  Jefromi Oct 10 '12 at 0:08
    
@PeterTaylor American olives are NOT fermented and more mild. Non-American olives are usually fermented and have a stronger flavour. Both are commonly pickled in brine. –  Coomie Oct 10 '12 at 2:22
    
So is "European (non-fermented)" supposed to say "European (fermented)"? –  Peter Taylor Oct 10 '12 at 7:12
    
@PeterTaylor Yes, sorry. I've editted the post –  Coomie Oct 10 '12 at 7:56
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