You may think you know olives. But until you’ve tasted these botijas, you haven’t really understood how amazing olives can be. The first time I tried these, I fell so hard for them that I had to restrain myself from eating the whole bag at once. They’ve got an amazing flavor — mellow and fruity and rich and deep and complex, like the best olive oil you ever had. But the texture is what really makes these so special and unusual. They’re pitted and dried, and they’re perfectly moist and soft, with an amazing bite — a touch of resistance from the skin, and then a tender yielding interior.
Botijas are grown in Peru, where they’ve been cultivated since they were brought over by a Spanish colonist in 1519. They were considered a luxury back then, and have evolved into a still-luxurious staple in many parts of Peru, making their way into all manner of dishes — from tart and empanada fillings, to savory stews and braises, to relishes and dips, to emblematic dishes like papas a la huancaina, boiled potato slices blanketed in creamy fresh cheese and walnut sauce.
But your botija olives are probably not going to get that far. Yeah, maybe they’ll make their way to a salad, but most likely they’re going to go straight from bag to mouth, because these olives are just so incredibly delicious on every level that you’re going to want to savor them one by one, without messing around with any recipes.
Let me explain. There are a lot of ways that olives can go wrong. Maybe they’re too rubbery, or too salty or too bland. And then there’s the pit issue — olives are often just annoying to eat unless they’re pitted, and the pitted ones are usually drippy with brine, except for kalamatas, which are often way too salty to really enjoy as a snack. Plus, there’s the stuff you can’t tell just by tasting. Did you know that most olives are picked long before they are truly ripe and can even be softened with chemicals such as lye? Some olives are artificially darkened with an iron compound called ferrous gluconate, and all canned olives are pasteurized (cooked), and end up tasting like can (and containing BPA and other nasty can liner stuff).
But not these wonderful botijas. The first time I tried these, I fell so hard for them that I had to restrain myself from eating the whole bag at once. They’ve got an amazing flavor — mellow and fruity and rich and deep and complex, like the best olive oil you ever had. They’re perfectly salty — not too salty and not too bland, and they’ve got a wonderful meaty umami taste, like a great jerky or a portobello mushroom. So the taste is insanely great already — but the texture is what really makes these so special and unusual. They’re pitted and dried, so you don’t have to worry about pits or drippy brine, and they’re perfectly moist and soft, with an amazing bite — a touch of resistance from the skin, and then a tender-but-not-mushy yielding interior. Some foods just have a texture that makes them extra-satisfying to eat because of the contrast between the inside and the outside, and botija olives definitely rank highly among these. Kids tend to adore them and eat them like candy. But they’ll probably need to get adults to give them up first, which may be very difficult.
So these botija olives taste sublime. But there’s more! Olives are naturally high in beautifying oleic acid, and are also one of nature's richest sources of the antioxidant vitamin E. They’re high in polyphenols, calcium and magnesium. Olives are champion mucus dissolvers, easily beating out figs and oranges. This makes them not only a delicious snack, but also an excellent food for internal cleansing. These botijas are grown on a permaculture farm in Peru, where they're treated properly to keep all the nutrients intact, and in fact enhance their nutritional profile. Yeah, these babies are lactofermented using traditional methods — sea salt and local spring water — so they pack a probiotic punch as well.
You’ll likely be eating these right out of the bag. And you probably won’t want to share. But it’s also worth noting that no salad is complete without olives. Chop them up and sprinkle them on your greens.
A few other ideas:
Olives are technically a fruit! In fact, they are one of the most mineral-rich fruits on earth. Olives are especially high in calcium and magnesium, which help to build strong bones. They also contain vitamins A and E and the beautifying, heart healthy oleic acid. Olives also contain protein and compounds called polyphenols which display anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Plus, olives are known as the most powerful mucus dissolver of any fruit. Too much mucus in your system can cause that cold/flu-like feeling of being clogged and stuffy with puffy eyes and dulled senses. Regular consumption of olives can help to clear out excess mucus and lift the fog.
Some people worry about the fat content of olives, but they contain monounsaturated fats which are much healthier than the trans fats or saturated fats found in other foods. Our bodies need fats to strengthen cell membranes, beautify the skin and lubricate our joints and intestines. Olives are a delicious source of healthy and alkaline plant-based fats.