The olive tree is frequently mentioned in the Bible. The story of Noah and the ark is the first time the olive tree is cited in the Bible. An olive branch carried by a dove was the sign for Noah that the flood had ended. Even today, the olive branch is used as a symbol for peace and reconciliation.
Centuries old Olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane
The olive tree served as a symbol of beauty (Isaiah 11, 16), freshness and vitality “your sons are like shoots of olive around your table” (Psalms). The Holy Land is said to be a “land of olive and oil” (Deut 8). Olive oil was used for cooking and in the Temple lamps. It was an olive grove where Jesus prayed, was betrayed and arrested (mentioned in all four gospels).
The olive tree is an evergreen about 16 feet high. Its root system is robust and capable of regenerating the tree even if the above-ground structure is destroyed. Olive trees are hardy, drought-, disease- flood- and fire-resistant, and can live for an extremely long time. The older an olive tree is, the broader and more gnarled its trunk appears. Many olive trees in the groves around the Mediterranean are said to be several centuries old. This has been scientifically verified in some trees.
I love olives. I have never seen so many varieties in my life as I did in Israel. Olives are high in monounsaturated fats. Olives are a good source of vitamin E, which helps prevent body cells from free radical damage. Olives also contain polyphenols and flavonoids, which are thought to have significant anti-inflammatory properties.
Olive oil, like olives, contains healthy monounsaturated fats. It has the ability to lower the bad cholesterol, while raising the good cholesterol.
Most are familiar with green and black olives. Did you know the only difference between green and black olives is ripeness? Unripe olives are green, whereas fully ripe olives are black.
Popular Olive Varieties in Israel:
• Souri: is the main variety in Israel. It’s grown mainly in the Galilee area.
• Berna: makes a delicate oil and has 20 percent oil content
• Nabali: has a larger fruit
• Musan: is a small olive
• Manzanillo: these are preserved Spanish style.
• Kalamata: Greek black olive, harvested fully ripe, deep purple, almond-shaped, brine-cured, rich and fruity flavor
L’Chaim (To Life), Nonna Joann