The tree is cold-hardy. Its olives have a 22% oil content, and their flesh doesn’t cling to the pit. Most of them are dyed black and tinned for sale as black olives in North America. They are also used for green olives and for oil in North America.
These olives are acquiring a bad rap, as more and more people learn that these are the “generic” olives sold on supermarket shelves across North America. American producers have developed a unique process designed to remove any trace of flavour in processing these olives, whether sold green or black.
Those who have access to Mission Olive trees and can cure some of their own, say they actually do have some flavour when cured with more traditional methods.
Producers don’t want to change to growing other varieties of olive trees, however, as it takes many years to restock an olive grove. Meanwhile, consumers continue to turn to foreign olives in droves. Producers may end up getting to have Mission Olives all to themselves.
Suggestions on what these olives are good for range from spooky eyes on open-faced Hallowe’en sandwiches, finger puppets, or any food designed for kids, where you want to minimize any possible taste.
Olive trees were brought by the Spanish to Mexico in the 1500s, and up from Mexico to California by Spanish missionaries. The first recorded planting of an olive tree in California was in 1769. From groves at the old Spanish missions, this olive tree — now called Mission — was propagated around Southern California. The variety has been abandoned by the Spanish, and it no longer exists in Spain.