Our olives come from small, family farms and village co-ops in Greece, who follow the same traditional agricultural methods used in the region for thousands of years. Some of the trees are over 1,000 years old.
Our raw, heirloom olives are grown, harvested and cured to capture their delicious flavors while delivering naturally occurring probiotics and essential nutrients.
Perfect as a snack, in salads, appetizers or entrées, Alive & Well olives are rich in live, active cultures, with 3.6 million CFUs (colony forming units) and 55 million CFUs per jar.
The Typical Commercial Olive Process
At Alive & Well, we pride ourselves in the high-quality fruit we harvest and the processes we use (and have been used for generations by family farms in Greece). To best understand the difference between Alive & Well olives and typical commercial olives is to first walk through the typical commercial olive growing, handling and packing processes:
Involves intense chemical fertilization, weed and pest control are standard practice and watering is common to increase yield.
Collected olives are subjected to at least three transfers from farmer to broker/aggregator to processor to packer, delays may be days prior to brining resulting in moldy, rancid flavors.
Speed and expediency are priorities leading to lye-curing, chemical manipulation of any fermentation employed and ferrous gluconate dying. Even when olives are partially fermented the probiotic, culture-rich brine is discarded.
The packing brine is acidified with industrially produced acids, occasionally benzoates are added. Thermal processing (pasteurization) kills all living cultures.
The Alive & Well Process
Cultivation & Harvest
Tightly knit groups of collaborating growers produce the crop for Alive & Well olives in contiguous olive groves in Greece. The families involved cultivate and tend the groves, harvest the crop and transfer the fruit to communally owned vats in the respective olive grove regions. The olives are picked by hand, often in multiple stages, then the just-ripened fruit is quickly transferred to near-by curing vats, minimizing deterioration by exposure to air.
Fermentation occurs spontaneously as the ambient cultures carried on the skin of the olives become active in the brine within hours of picking. The fermentation brine is made with unrefined sea-salt from regional salt flats. These natural cultures include several varieties of lactobacillus, yeasts and enzymes, specific to the location. Olive lovers believe that this rich diversity of cultures is responsible for the special character of olives from a particular location. The immediate access to the curing vats makes it possible to gather olives in successive passes for optimum ripeness. Members of the group oversee the curing of the fermenting olives, which is allowed to proceed to completion. The facility supervisors and lab techs are also members of the grower group who have had special training. The olives remain undisturbed in the fermenting, “mother” brine until they are packed for shipment to market.
The facility shared by the co-op farm families has jar-filling and labeling equipment run by members of the group. This allows these collaborating growers to ensure the quality of the olives from tree to jar.
By the time Alive & Well olives are jarred, the food is a flavorful fruit with an appealing texture that retains the full complement of nutrients including active probiotic cultures.