Manzanillo and Kalamata trees are both excellent choices for home gardeners or orchard owners looking to grow their own olive trees. While they share similarities as olive tree varieties, they also have distinct characteristics that set them apart.
Manzanillo trees (Olea europaea 'Manzanillo') are known for their large and juicy olives. The fruit is typically plump, and round, and has a slightly sweet and mild flavour with a hint of bitterness. Manzanillo olives are often used for table olives and can be processed into green or black olives, depending on their ripeness. These trees are well-suited for a wide range of climates and are particularly popular in warmer regions.
On the other hand, Kalamata trees (Olea europaea 'Kalamon' or 'Kalamata') produce the well-known Kalamata olives. These olives are dark purple to black in colour and are elongated in shape. They are famous for their rich, fruity flavour with a distinct tanginess. Kalamata olives are often used in Greek salads and Mediterranean dishes and as a popular table olive variety. The Kalamata tree thrives in Mediterranean climates but can also adapt to other regions with similar weather conditions.
While the flavour of the olives from each tree varies, both Manzanillo and Kalamata trees are highly regarded for their fruit quality and versatility in culinary applications. Additionally, olive trees, in general, offer several benefits, such as providing shade, being drought-tolerant, and having ornamental value due to their attractive silver-green foliage.
If you have the space and suitable growing conditions, I highly recommend purchasing both Manzanillo and Kalamata trees. Having a diverse range of olive trees in your garden not only adds visual interest but also allows you to enjoy a wider variety of olive flavours and uses. Whether you're interested in brining olives for your favourite recipes or simply want to savour the fresh taste of olives straight from the tree, these two varieties are sure to bring delight to your home and culinary experiences. Happy gardening and olive harvesting!