Table olives are olives grown to be used in cooking or eaten out of the hand, as opposed to being grown for pressing into oil. While olives to be used for oil can be mechanically harvested, olives destined for table use must be picked by hand to avoid damaging them.
The olives must first be cured either in lye or in brine before they can become table olives.
Some olives are best for table olives, some are best for oil, some are dual purpose.
The opposite category is “Olives for Oil.” Less than 10% of the olives grown in the world are destined to be table olives.