Partner content: 6 creative things to do with olives and olive oil this season

There’s way more to olives than meets the eye, says SA Olive, the industry body looking after the interests of South Africa’s many olive and olive oil producers. And there is indeed. This holiday season, why not try out these creative ways to put olives and olive oil to use?

Make an olive oil cake

The flavour and moisture content of an olive oil cake can’t be beat. If you’ve never tried one, you’re missing out. The golden exterior is outdone only by the fluffy and über-moist centre. Top it with edible glitter, toasted nuts or something fruity like pomegranate arils, and you have a table centrepiece everyone will be eager to tuck into. We can vouch for the utter irresistibility of this one.

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Bake your own olive bread

While spreading a thick slice of bread with delicious tapenade is drool-worthy, you can do one better by incorporating the olives into the bread. Few things are as exciting as the tantalising purple dotted throughout freshly baked bread teasing the unique saltiness of olives. Bake mini olive breads to enjoy before the big meal and slather slices with butter and enjoy in the kitchen, or even keep some loaves aside for next-level sandwiches with leftovers.

Not all olive oils are best suited for baking, though. Use this as a general guide so you put your olive oil to its best use:

  • Use the more intensely fruity oils for grilling meat, sautéing garlic and onions, on toast with ricotta, and swirled into hot soup.
  • Use medium-style oil in baking, on salads, for baking fresh tuna, and with chicken.
  • Use delicate oil for mayonnaise, in desserts and over fresh fruit.

Make an olive branch wreath

Welcome guests into your home with the symbol of peace. It’s not just symbolic, either – the narrow leaves are beautiful, especially when dotted with olives. Wrap the branches around a wreath form using floral wire, and voilà. Use any leftover leaves as table decorations.

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Incorporate olive oil into your beauty regime

If the gorgeous Sophia Loren took olive oil baths, what’s to stop you from including this rich natural product to your beauty regime? Just add five tablespoons to your bathtub and you’re set for a treat. Or use it as body lotion, makeup remover or substitute for shaving cream. You can also combine olive oil with natural products like honey, eggs or avocado for a hydrating face mask.

The beauty of olives and olive oil can be shown off on the table by itself or in your delicious meals. Photo by Tasha Seccombe.

Impress with a confit

Olive oil is excellent for so much more than dressing a salad. The myth that olive oil should not be used for frying has also been debunked. Confit is an old-fashioned method of preserving meat by submerging it in fat. It delivers on flavour in a huge way and leaves meat falling off the bone. Make a chicken, duck or pork belly confit by cooking the meat low and slow for several hours in around five cups of olive oil, garlic and complementary herbs. Prepare to rake in the compliments.

Put a huge bow on it

A bottle of premium, locally produced olive oil makes for the perfect gift. (Especially when paired with ideas about what to do with it, like a recipe for olive oil cake, confit or a face mask.) In South Africa, consumers are blessed with a choice of high-quality locally produced olive oils. Need help choosing one from the plethora of olive oils?

To wow your guests, try some of the 19 extra-virgin olive oils that recently won gold medals at the SA Olive Awards. Photo by Tasha Seccombe.

How to choose

To ensure that you always choose the best quality locally produced extra-virgin olive oils, SA Olive has introduced a seal of authenticity referred to as the Commitment to Compliance (CTC) Scheme. Look out for the oval lime green CTC seal when you purchase your next oil. And, to wow your guests, try some of the 19 extra-virgin olive oils (EVOO) that recently won gold medals at the SA Olive Awards. Visit for the list and adopt your shopping list accordingly.

A quick 1-2-3-4 to buying the best olive oil:

1. Buy locally produced olive oils (which regularly win international awards).

2. Buy fresh. The harvest year displayed on the bottle will guide you.

3. Buy the purest. Make sure it says ‘extra-virgin olive oil’ on the bottle.

4. The SAO CTC seal gives you peace of mind, assuring the highest standard.

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