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The Best Olives to Serve on Your Next Cheese Board

Have you heard? We’re launching a new cheese subscription box program. Each monthly delivery gets you a fantastic wedge of American artisan cheese, a box of gourmet crackers, and a rotating selection of tasty accompaniments each month—including jams, pickles, chocolates, and briny, umami-rich olives. Here’s how we choose olives to pair with cheese.

How Olives Are Made

goat cheese and mixed olives

We’re used to seeing green, purple, red, and black olives in their ready-to-eat form, but there’s a lot of time and care that goes into transforming the little fruits you see on the tree into flavorful bites. 

In fact, fresh olives are inedible and very bitter because they contain a compound called oleuropein. Once they ripen, our suppliers harvest by hand and sort each fruit to ensure that only plump, blemish-free olives go through the curing process (the rest can be pressed into olive oil or blended into savory tapenade). 

Olives can be cured in brine (salt water), dry-cured (packed in salt), or cured in water or oil to remove the oleuropein. The curing process develops each variety’s unique flavor profile, which can range from fruity to buttery to tangy to smoky. Terroir and seasonality affect olive flavor profiles, too—just like cheese!

The longer an olive cures, the more complex its flavor will be. The suppliers we work with cure their olives for up to six months depending on the variety. 

How to Pair Cheese and Olives

mixed olives on a cheese board

Some beloved olive pairings just make sense: briny feta and kalamata olives, for example, both come from Greece—a no-brainer pairing for a Mediterranean mezze board. But olives can bring out the best of just about any cheese. 

We love pairing Spanish olives with savory clothbound cheddar to boost out its umami notes. Mild, fresh cheeses like chevre and fromage blanc go well with olives marinated with citrus or herbs, while the saltiness of olives emphasizes the sweetness of a long-aged Gouda. Buttery Castelvetranos and tiny Picholines complement rich, creamy cheeses like Brie, while mildly sweet Cerignolas go well with dessert blues like Gorgonzola.  

How We Source Quality Olives for Our Cheese Subscription Box

mixed olives in a jar with charcuterie and cheddar

When looking for the perfect olives to pair with fine cheeses, we seek out artisan makers working directly with small-scale, sustainable olive groves to produce high-quality olives using traditional methods. 

We also look for varieties and mixes that offer a spectrum of flavors to pair with a wide range of cheeses. Our favorites are versatile, with the ability to boost the rich umami flavor of a clothbound cheddar or emphasize the milky sweetness of a mild, fresh cheese. 

How Our Cheese Subscription Box Works

cheese subscription with accompaniments

Our Monthly Cheese Subscription is flexible, customizable, and delicious. Each month, we select 3 luscious American artisan cheeses to ship right to your door. You can add a selection of 3 gourmet pairing items plus crackers for a complete tasting experience—and it's easy to customize your box based on your cheese preferences and dietary needs, too. 

Sign up here for your own monthly cheese subscription. (They make excellent cheese gifts!)

Our Favorite Artisan Olive Brands

pitted olives with honey and chutney

We’ve been vetting gourmet olive brands since we launched our cheese gift boxes last year. Olives are good for you, and we want to share these quality brands with our subscribers! Here are the ones we’ve chosen to include in our cheese subscription box program. 

Losada Olives

Losada has been hand-harvesting their heirloom Spanish olives for 60 years. Because they’re cured with the pits intact, Losada’s Dequmana line is cured with just water and salt—no vinegar to get in the way of the olives’ natural flavor. They’re made in the Andalucian town of Carmona, where olives and olive oil have been cultivated and produced since Roman times. 

Divina Olives

This olive company sources sustainably grown fruits that are hand-selected at peak ripeness by small-scale olive farms in Mediterranean countries like Greece and Italy. Only large, unblemished olives are selected to undergo the curing process—during which the true flavor of each varietal develops—before they’re marinated and jarred. 

What are your favorite olives to serve with cheese? Tag us @cheesegrotto on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and let us know!

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