Itrana olives are also suitable as table olives.
We had hand-picked some especially plump olives to prepare for preserving in brine. Olives, freshly harvested from the trees are inedible and need to be treated to remove the astringent bitter taste. Filippo showed us how to partially slice the olives with a knife before placing them into a brine solution. These then must be left to cure for a period of about 5 or 6 months, after which they become soft. They take on a distinctive bitter flavour, with a hint of wine vinegar. They are absolutely delicious.
There are in fact two types of Itrana table olives:
“White” which in reality are a golden green colour with pale pink markings, harvested early in the season whilst they are only semi ripe
“Black” which are actually a deep purple colour, harvested in March or April, when the olives are fully ripened. Although the Itrani olives are mainly cultivated in the Itri area, they are more commonly marketed abroad, mainly to America, as “Olive di Gaeta”, despite the fact that they are cultivated around Itri and not Gaeta !!!
Top chefs recommend that recipes such as “Spaghetti alla Puttanesca” or “Straccetti alla Marinara” require only the best ingredients, such as “Gaeta” (Itri !!! ) Olives.