Green Olive: How’d you get that pimento?

This week, to my disappointment, I accidentally came home with a jar of green olives WITHOUT pimento… but why was I disappointed? The pimento barely does anything for the taste in average quality olives… was it the color? The feel? And actually, how the hell did they even get the pimento into the olive? It doesn’t give enough to the general experience to be worth a lot of trouble. Not in the supermarket olive variety.

Obviously, I could conjecture that the pimento was stuffed into the olive- I’m not that dense. But how? The pimento tends to be the perfect size in each olive, fitting like a plug- not like a little piece of pepper placed inside.

So, naturally, I looked it up…

The story is, although pimento (mild red cherry pepper) was stuffed by hand into olives back in the day, as of  1962 The Sadrym company of Seville, Spain introduced the first automatic olive-stuffing machine. Modern day machines usually make a mixture of minced pimento and gelatin, that is formed into long thin strips which are fed into the stuffer.

As each olive is pitted (with a x- shaped punch… so that’s where the X mark comes from!) a tiny bit of the pimento gelatin is pushed inside of the olive, fitting snug into it’s new little home.  I tried to find a video of this, but instead came across a sea of ‘hand stuffed olive’ demonstrations from artisan food makers trying to strut their ‘stuff’ (pun intended, as always.)

One VERY interesting tidbit: Most pimento-stuffing machines are still made in Spain to this day, even though the favorite olive insert in Spain is actually anchovy… I can attest to this from experience: There’s a taste-bud surprise every time I eat a green olive in Spain.

If you’d like an idea for making an impressive little stuffed olive treat at home, check out this recipe for Fried Green Olives Stuffed with Blue Cheese, from Bon Appetite magazine.