Everything You Need to Know About Arbequina Olive Trees

If the bland, black discs dotting your pizza and the jarred, pre-stuffed green morsels make up the whole of your experience with olives, you’re missing out. But fresh olives can be hard to find in local grocery stores.

A staple of Mediterranean cuisine for centuries, olives have long been added to a variety of dishes and pressed to make olive oil. And with Arbequina Olive trees from Yarden, you can enjoy fresh olives at home!

Read on to learn more about Arbequina Olives and the tree they come from:

Arbequina Olive and Olive Tree FAQ

Q: Where do Arbequina Olive Trees come from?

A: Arbequina Olive Trees are native to Spain (specifically, the Catalonia region). They are now grown in many other parts of the world. In fact, almost 80% of the olive trees grown in California are Arbequina Olive Trees.

Q: What are Arbequina Olive Trees like in appearance?

A: Arbequina Olive Trees are an attractive addition to any garden (even without the fruit!). They are smaller trees, reaching anywhere from 15 to 20 feet tall when planted in the ground (though regular pruning can keep them smaller).

Like citrus trees, Arbequina Olive Trees are evergreen. The tree’s pleasing shape makes it coveted as an ornamental, with gracefully dropping branches sporting shiny, silvery-green leaves and small, fragrant white blossoms that appear early in the spring. The glossy fruit starts out green, transitions to pale pink, then deep purple, then finally near-black. Like most olive varieties, the fruit of an Arbequina Olive Tree can be enjoyed at almost every stage of ripeness, depending on whether you prefer ripe or unripe olives.

Q: Do I need more than one Arbequina Olive Tree to get fruit?

A: Good question, and one likely to be asked by those who have experience growing apple or pear trees! Like citrus trees, Arbequina Olive Trees are self-pollinating. That means you can still grow an Arbequina Olive Tree of your own in smaller gardens.

Q: How soon will my Arbequina Olive Tree bear fruit?

A: An Arbequina Olive Tree can begin to produce fruit as early as two years after planting, though it may be as long as four years before fruit begins to appear. Mature trees produce more fruit (as much as fifteen pounds in a growing season). The tree flowers in early spring; while the olives begin to ripen by October. For darker olives, wait until November to harvest.

Q: Do I need to live in a warm climate to plant an Arbequina Olive Tree?

A: Arbequina Olive Trees can tolerate temperatures as low as 20°F. In the US, they can be grown in the ground in horticultural growing zones 8 through 10, and in pots in zones 4 through 7. Keep in mind that potted olive trees are unlikely to produce fruit, though they do make lovely ornamentals on your patio or deck.

Q: How much care and maintenance does an Arbequina Olive Tree need?

A: Arbequina Olive Trees are drought-resistant and grow well in rugged soil. They are also resistant to pests and disease, making them great candidates for organic gardens. Arbequina Olive Trees should be planted or placed in areas that get lots of sunshine. An Arbequina Olive Tree should be planted in well-draining soil and allowed dry periods between watering. Potted trees should be brought indoors when temperatures dip below freezing. Occasional pruning can help maintain the health and shape of the tree, as well as keep it at a manageable size. For a better fruit crop, it is beneficial to fertilize the tree twice a year.

Q: I prefer (black/green) olives. Which type of olive are Arbequina Olives – black or green?

A: We’ll let you in on a little secret – just about all olives (including Arbequinas) are both black and green – the difference between the two types depends on the stage of ripeness, not the variety of olive. If you prefer the sharper taste of a green olive, you’ll start harvesting your fruit when the juice changes from clear to milky. If you prefer sweeter olives, you’ll wait for the fruit to turn deep purple or near-black before you start picking.

Q: How can Arbequina Olives be used?

A: The meaty fruit of the Arbequina Olive Tree can be used in many ways. Arbequina Olives can be enjoyed at almost any stage of ripeness and used as a topping for pizza or a garnish for cocktails, on cheese boards with fruits and nuts, in salads or sandwiches, and in all kinds of recipes. They can also be stuffed and served with humus as appetizers or hors d’oeuvres.

When milled from fully ripe (black) olives, Arbequina Olive Oil is aromatic and sweet with no harsh aftertaste and, due to its mild flavor, is ideal for roasting or sauteing vegetables or used to cook fish. The oil is good for baking or in making salad dressings, pesto, olive butter, or mayonnaise. It can also be used as a dipping oil for crusty bread.

Q: Are Arbequina Olives good for you?

A: Definitely! Arbequina Olives are rich in antioxidants and high in vitamin E and phytonutrients (which have been shown to reduce your risk for some types of cancer). Arbequina Olives also have anti-inflammatory benefits and contain oleanolic acid, which is good for heart health. Unlike jarred or canned olives which are preserved in brine, fresh Arbequina Olives aren’t high in sodium, and because they’re unprocessed they are high in polyphenols, plant compounds that have been linked to better brain and digestive health, and other benefits.

Q: Can I brine my fresh Arbequina Olives?

A. You can home-brine your freshly harvested olives in salt water, then marinate them in olive oil, garlic, and aromatic herbs such as rosemary and/or by leaves and they’ll keep for up to four months.