There are several significant differences between Greek-style and other olive types. First, these olives are naturally black when they are harvested, in contrast to California-style black olives that rely on oxidation to generate black pigments. Second, Greek-style olives are not lye-treated, giving them a more bitter flavor. Third, the fermentation is mediated not just by lactic acid bacteria, but also by yeast, non-lactic acid bacteria, and even fungi. Some of these non-lactic organisms (e.g., Pseudomonas and Enterobacteriaceae) may actually remain in the brine, albeit at low levels, for several weeks be fore they begin to decline (Figure 7-8). Thus, the fermentation end-products include not just lactic acid, but also acetic acid, citric acid, malic acid, CO2, and ethanol. This mixed fermentation may result in a less acidic product with a final pH as high as 4.5 and an acidity less than 0.6%. Lower brine concentrations (5% to 10%) may contribute to the more diverse flora that develop in these olives.
Another type of fermented olive that is made in a very similar manner (i.e., no lye-treatment) is the Sicilian olive.The main difference between these olives and the Greek olives is that the Sicilian olives are green (like Spanish olives). Also, while lactobacilli are the main bacteria involved in the fermentation, the dominant species appears to be Lactobacillus ca-sei, an organism not ordinarily associated with fermented olives.
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