What is the Difference Between Black and Green Olives

The main difference between black and green olives is that farmers harvest green olives while they are unripe, while black olives are left to be ripened naturally before being harvested.

Simply put, green olives are the unripe, early harvested olives with a peppery taste, while black olives are fully ripened fruits with mellow and juicier taste. Green and black olives vary from each other when it comes to their flavour, texture, and culinary uses.

Key Areas Covered

1. What are Black Olives
     – Definition, Features
2. What is Green Olives
     – Definition, Features
3. Similarities – Black and Green Olives
     – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Black and Green Olives
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Black Olives, Green Olives, OlivesDifference Between Black and Green Olives - Comparison Summary

What are Black Olives

Black olives are the ripened olive fruits native to Mexico, Central America, northern South America and the Caribbean. Black olive is a tropical fruit with the scientific name Olea europaea. It is a stone fruit, just like plums, peaches, cherries, mangoes, and lychees.

The young olive fruits are green in colour, and they turn black when ripened. The black olives are extremely versatile and can be incorporated in many dishes such as pasta, salads, stews, pizzas, and charcuterie boards. Above all, it is possible to consume black olives raw as an appetizer.

Black Olives vs Green Olives

Black olives have an oval shape and have a length of up to half an inch. When compared to unripe green olives, black olives are softer in texture and richer and meatier in taste.

What are Green Olives

Green olives refer to the unripe olive fruits that have a green hue. Compared to the ripened black olives, these raw olives taste far too bitter. Therefore, green olives are usually consumed after they are processed. This is done mainly by pickling or curing them.

Compare Black and Green Olives

Most green olives are converted into olive oil. Olive oil manufacturers soak the freshly plucked green olives in lye before brining them in oil. But sometimes green olives are preserved with a longer shelf period in order to enjoy them later with meals. This is more commonly visible in Mediterranean cuisine. Simply put, green olives are harvested before they are fully ripe, so they have a distinct flavour.

Similarities Between Black and Green Olives

  • The terms black olives and green olives refer to the ripe and unripe versions of the same fruit produced by olive trees grown in the Mediterranean, central and tropical Asia and in some regions of Africa
  • They contain antioxidants, which help to prevent chronic inflammation
  • Mediterranean dishes are heavy with black and green olives.
  • Furthermore, these fruits have a high sodium content and a low cholesterol content.
  • Since olives are low in cholesterol and rich in monounsaturated fats, studies show that daily olive intake can improve your heart health.
  • Black or green, they both have a naturally bitter taste.

Difference Between Black and Green Olives


Green olives are the unripe, early harvested olives with a peppery taste, while black olives are fully ripened olives with mellow and juicier taste.


Ripeness is the main differentiating factor between green and black olives. Farmers harvest young green olives early on before they get the chance to ripen and turn black. But black olives have a deeper level of ripeness. That is why the black olives have a darker hue. When black olives undergo a curing process, they turn even darker.


Unripe green olives taste more peppery and have a green leave note, while black olives, with their bitter mixed mellow taste, have floral notes.


Green olives are firmer while black olives are softer.


The main difference between black and green olives is that green olives are the unripe olive fruits harvested early, while black olives are the fully ripened olives harvested after they turn dark. Whether ripe or unripe, green or black, both these versions of olives are rich in nutrients and support your heart and overall body health immensely.


1. “Black Olive Recipes.” Great British Chefs, 15 July 2021.
2. Pathak, Neha. “Green Olives: Health Benefits, Nutrients per Serving, Preparation Information, and More.” WebMD, 17 Sept. 2020.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Delicious black olives with leaves on white background” By Marco Verch Professional Photographer (CC BY 2.0)
2. “Harvested Spanish Olives” (Public Domain) via Public Domain Pictures

About the Author: Anuradha

Anuradha has a BA degree in English, French, and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Master's degree in Teaching English Literature in a Second Language Context. Her areas of interests include Arts and Literature, Language and Education, Nature and Animals, Cultures and Civilizations, Food, and Fashion.

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