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The best olive and pickle varieties Spain has to offer

Good food is an intrinsic part of Spanish culture – and enjoying the unmistakable taste of Spain at home is easier than you think

How to eat Spain’s delicious cured meats like a local
How to eat Spain’s delicious cured meats like a local

3 mins read time   |   Written by Kayleigh Giles

From deep and intense preserves and spices to world-renowned cured meats, Spain is home to a range of delectable produce. And while each of its offerings is wonderfully unique, you can be sure passion lies at the heart of all of them. Indeed, nothing reflects the Spanish’s unwavering desire to achieve culinary excellence quite their ability to take centuries-old traditions and transform them into refined and sophisticated modern-day versions. It’s this pride in cooking that has made the country’s cuisine as globally renowned today as it ever was.

Be it something small, like olives fermented in piquant spices coupled with a dry sherry, or a sea of tapas dishes fit to dominate even the grandest of dining tables, food is so much more than just sustenance in Spain; it’s a celebration. If you’re looking to bring the same flair to your table, olives and pickles are undoubtedly the simplest way to do it. Here’s how you can embrace them like a local.


It’s a common misconception that the colour of an olive denotes its variety. Whether your olive is green, black or an intermediate shade simply signifies when the fruit was picked from the tree. It’s this variation in ripening time that results in table olives’ vast array of textures and flavours. Green olives, for example, are plucked at the optimal ripening stage, while the black variety are picked just before they reach their full ripening potential.

While Spain is abounding with delicious olives, the Manzanilla de Sevilla (a fleshy olive with a fine texture and spherical shape) and the generously sized Gordal olive, famed for its low oil content, are among the best varieties. While those in southern and northern Spain have garnered their own olive recipes – usually inspired by their ancestry – enjoying them as a simple snack with a refreshing cold beer or fino sherry is popular up and down the country.


Sweet and bitter vinegars are omnipresent in Spain, so it’s little surprise that pickling foods has become such a customary cooking method. Indeed, it’s a curing technique that not only preserves produce, but instantly elevates taste and texture, particularly when it comes to vegetables.

The renowned Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Berenjenas de Almagro aubergines from Ciudad Real, for instance, are often fermented in a rich dressing of vinegar, oil, cumin, garlic and pimentón (a powder that’s obtained from crushing and drying certain types of red peppers). Guindillas (chilli peppers) from the Basque town of Ibarra are another popular choice. Preserved in white wine vinegar, they make for the perfect tapas addition or as a side with wine and cheese. It’s also the garnish of choice for those who like an extra spicy Bloody Mary cocktail.