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gfron1

Are olives poisonous before curing?

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gfron1   

I knew that olives straight off the tree were disgusting, but tonight my spouse says they're poisonous. I say BS. Are they?

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mizducky   
I knew that olives straight off the tree were disgusting, but tonight my spouse says they're poisonous.  I say BS.  Are they?

At least according to Wikipedia, unprocessed olives are apparently not poisonous:

Olives freshly picked from the tree contain phenolic compounds and a unique glycoside, oleuropein, which makes the fruit unpalatable for immediate consumption. There are many ways of processing olives for table use . . . [long excursus on olive processing methods, omitted for brevity]. The olives can be tasted at any time as the bitter compounds are not poisonous, and oleuropein is a useful antioxidant in the human diet.

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heidih   
I knew that olives straight off the tree were disgusting, but tonight my spouse says they're poisonous.  I say BS.  Are they?

Yes- we got the same party line as kids. They were discouraging us from eating them or playing with them I think. The adults were picking and curing them. We had plenty of other "trouble" to get in to, so we just left them alone. I am interested in the curing process.

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Qwerty   

No, they are not poisonous just disgusting. What possibly could curing do to fix poison?

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I knew that olives straight off the tree were disgusting, but tonight my spouse says they're poisonous.  I say BS.  Are they?

"What is it that is not poison? All things are poison and nothing is without poison.

It is the dose only that makes a thing not a poison."

Paracelsus (1493-1541)

In other words, anything can be poisonous if consumed in sufficient quantity. This is the basis for the science of toxicology. The term "poison" is reserved for highly toxic compounds - typically those capable of causing 50% mortality at a dose of 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This would translate to a lethal dose of 4 grams for a person weighing 80 kilograms (about 176 pounds). For comparison, 3 grams of sodium chloride (table salt) per kilogram of body weight is considered 50% lethal - equivalent to 240 grams of table salt for an 80 kilogram (176 pound) person. Most would consider a serving containing 240 grams of sodium chloride to be seriously overseasoned. :wink:

Quick googling did not turn up anything specific on the toxicity of uncured olives. Based on numerous reports of consumption by birds, farm animals, and dogs, we can confidently surmise that the toxicity of uncured olives does not qualify for the "poison" designation.

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Mallet   
Quick googling did not turn up anything specific on the toxicity of uncured olives. Based on numerous reports of consumption by birds, farm animals, and dogs, we can confidently surmise that the toxicity of uncured olives does not qualify for the "poison" designation.

Except that birds, deer etc. stuff themselves with nightshade... :hmmm:

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gfron1   
"What is it that is not poison? All things are poison and nothing is without poison.

It is the dose only that makes a thing not a poison."

Paracelsus (1493-1541)

In other words, anything can be poisonous if consumed in sufficient quantity. This is the basis for the science of toxicology. The term "poison" is reserved for highly toxic compounds - typically those capable of causing 50% mortality at a dose of 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This would translate to a lethal dose of 4 grams for a person weighing 80 kilograms (about 176 pounds). For comparison, 3 grams of sodium chloride (table salt) per kilogram of body weight is considered 50% lethal - equivalent to 240 grams of table salt for an 80 kilogram (176 pound) person. Most would consider a serving containing 240 grams of sodium chloride to be seriously overseasoned. :wink:

Quick googling did not turn up anything specific on the toxicity of uncured olives. Based on numerous reports of consumption by birds, farm animals, and dogs, we can confidently surmise that the toxicity of uncured olives does not qualify for the "poison" designation.

I love eGullet! That is the type of answer you won't find on any other foodie website. Thanks. I'm going to salt my eggs now...

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Olive oil is pressed from uncured olives and is most surely not poisonous. Do, however, be wary of how many peach pits you eat!

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Smithy   
Quick googling did not turn up anything specific on the toxicity of uncured olives. Based on numerous reports of consumption by birds, farm animals, and dogs, we can confidently surmise that the toxicity of uncured olives does not qualify for the "poison" designation.

Not to mention the hapless visitors to our neighbors, who loved suckering city slickers into trying them. I'm not sure anyone ever finished an olive, though, and they learned to beware Wes' sense of humor.

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ray goud   
I knew that olives straight off the tree were disgusting, but tonight my spouse says they're poisonous.  I say BS.  Are they?

NO!!! But they are so bitter and astringent that one couldn't be poisoned even if they were!

Ray

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Ndy   
I knew that olives straight off the tree were disgusting, but tonight my spouse says they're poisonous.  I say BS.  Are they?

"What is it that is not poison? All things are poison and nothing is without poison.

It is the dose only that makes a thing not a poison."

Paracelsus (1493-1541)

In other words, anything can be poisonous if consumed in sufficient quantity. This is the basis for the science of toxicology. The term "poison" is reserved for highly toxic compounds - typically those capable of causing 50% mortality at a dose of 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This would translate to a lethal dose of 4 grams for a person weighing 80 kilograms (about 176 pounds). For comparison, 3 grams of sodium chloride (table salt) per kilogram of body weight is considered 50% lethal - equivalent to 240 grams of table salt for an 80 kilogram (176 pound) person. Most would consider a serving containing 240 grams of sodium chloride to be seriously overseasoned. :wink:

Quick googling did not turn up anything specific on the toxicity of uncured olives. Based on numerous reports of consumption by birds, farm animals, and dogs, we can confidently surmise that the toxicity of uncured olives does not qualify for the "poison" designation.

mmm. salt.

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I saw green unprocessed rock-hard olives in my grocery store a few years ago. Naturally I bought a few for research purposes and took them home. I tried to eat a few as is - highly unpalatable is a big understatement. So why are they sold this way? That's the question I'd like answered given I am not dead. Are people pressing their own oil? Do folks cure them at home?

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That's the question I'd like answered given I am not dead. .... Do folks cure them at home?

Yes.

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abooja   
I saw green unprocessed rock-hard olives in my grocery store a few years ago... Are people pressing their own oil? Do folks cure them at home?

My grandmother used to buy those all the time and cure them herself. We'd hear her up on the third floor whacking them with a hammer to crack them (for some inexplicable reason). She'd stick them in a jar with a bunch of spices and vinegar, then straight into the fridge (I believe), where they'd sit for many weeks. God bless her, they were horrible. You couldn't pay me to eat one as a kid, and I loved olives.

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deltadoc   

My understanding is that after the olives are pressed, the juice is allowed to sit, until the oil separates from the liquid part. The liquid part is then discarded, I think.

Anyway, to answer a previous question "how to you remove the poison?", read up on how rapeseed (canola) oil is processed.

doc

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The oil is centrifuged to separate the oil from the water. H2O is discarded.

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FoodMan   
I saw green unprocessed rock-hard olives in my grocery store a few years ago... Are people pressing their own oil? Do folks cure them at home?

My grandmother used to buy those all the time and cure them herself. We'd hear her up on the third floor whacking them with a hammer to crack them (for some inexplicable reason). She'd stick them in a jar with a bunch of spices and vinegar, then straight into the fridge (I believe), where they'd sit for many weeks. God bless her, they were horrible. You couldn't pay me to eat one as a kid, and I loved olives.

My grandmother still does that. I am planning on trying it some time. you have to crack them for the brine and seasoning to penetrate and for the bitterness to be removed. She used to crack and soak them in several changes of water for a couple of days to remove the bitterness. Never vinegar though, just salt, water, lemon and chilies and they are delicious.

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abooja   
My grandmother used to buy those all the time and cure them herself.  We'd hear her up on the third floor whacking them with a hammer to crack them (for some inexplicable reason).  She'd stick them in a jar with a bunch of spices and vinegar, then straight into the fridge (I believe), where they'd sit for many weeks.  God bless her, they were horrible.  You couldn't pay me to eat one as a kid, and I loved olives.

My grandmother still does that. I am planning on trying it some time. you have to crack them for the brine and seasoning to penetrate and for the bitterness to be removed. She used to crack and soak them in several changes of water for a couple of days to remove the bitterness. Never vinegar though, just salt, water, lemon and chilies and they are delicious.

Your grandmother must be a better cook than mine was. Oh, she could bang out a tasty pot of lentil soup or escarole (OSH-KA-ROLL) like no one's business, but these olives left much to be desired. I wish I had a jar of her olives to test right now. My tastes have matured some since I was a kid, when canned Lindsay's (or Oberti's, etc.) were the only olives I'd put in my mouth. :unsure:

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