How to Shop For, Pit, and Cook with Kalamata Olives

Everything you need to know about these deliciously briny morsels.

Published Apr. 18, 2023.

Kalamata olives are delicious eaten out of hand as a snack or in cooked dishes. Their deep purple flesh is rich, meaty, and complex. 

What Are Kalamata Olives?

Like most olives, kalamatas are toxic when raw and have to be cured. Kalamata olives are brine-cured. In Greece, where kalamatas originate, the olives are often packed in olive oil after brining. In America, they are almost always found in a vinegary brine (often made with red wine vinegar, which can give the olives an almost winey taste). 

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How to Shop for Kalamata Olives

When shopping for kalamatas, look for the fresher refrigerated ones, as the shelf-stable jarred kalamatas can be bland and mushy in comparison. If you can’t find kalamatas in the refrigerator section of your market, look for them at the salad bar.


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How to Pit Kalamata Olives

To pit them, carefully press the olives with the flat side of a chef’s knife, splitting the olive and exposing the pit (which is then easily plucked out).

How to Use Kalamata Olives

Use kalamata olives as the star of the dish in a tapenade or spread. Punch up the flavor in your puttanesca with pitted whole kalamatas or fry them in the microwave for a crispy, salty garnish with a concentrated olive flavor.

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