photo of olives

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olives

International

Size-grading is compulsory for whole, stoned (pitted), stuffed and halved olives. In a sample of 100 olives of any particular size, the difference in the horizontal diameters of the olives must not exceed 4 millimeters, excluding the olive with the largest diameter and the one with the smallest.

Number
per kilogram
 Whole Stuffed olives
60–70 Same as
whole
71–80
81–90
91–100
101–110
111–120
121–140
141–160
161–180
181–200
201–230 201–220
231–260 221–240
261–290 241–260
291–320 261–280
321–350 281–300
351–380 301–320
381–410 321–340
411–460 341–360
and so on
at 50-olive
intervals
361–380
381–400
401–420

Codex Alimentarius Commission.
Codex Standard for Table Olives.
Codex Stan 66-1981 (Rev. 1-1987)

Names, many apparently influenced by the American names, have become attached to some of these size grades. Note that a name may have a different meaning than it does in the United States, For example, in Europe there are between 121 and 140 olives in a kilogram of Colossal olives, while in the United States a kilogram of Colossal olives contains between 70 and 90 olives.

Size Number
per Kilogram
Approximate Number
per Pound
Bullets 351–380 159–172
Fine 321–350 146–158
Brilliant 291–320 132–145
Superior 261–290 118–132
Large 231–260 105–117
Extra Large 201–230 91–104
Jumbo 181–200 83–90
Extra Jumbo 161–180 74–82
Giants 141–160 65–73
Colossal 121–140 55–64
Super Colossal 111–120 50–54
Mammoth 101–110 46–50
Super Mammoth 91–100 41–45

United States

Olive size in the United States is based on the number of olives per pound.

To bring order to a welter of sizes used by individual packers, on 27 June 1917, the California Olive Association adopted the following sizes:1

Size Standard Medium Large Extra Large Mammoth Giant Jumbo Colossal
# per pound 120-135 105-120 90-105 75-90 65-75 55-65 45-55 35-45

1. Canning Age, vol 1(?), no. 12 (January 1921), page 35.

If the American names of olive sizes have a faintly Cecil B. DeMille ring to them, it is because the names originated at the same time and place. According to a family story, Frank C. Bliss, an employee of Curtis, a Long Beach, California advertising agency hired to conduct an advertising campaign for olives, chose the names Jumbo, Colossal, and Mammoth – terms commonly being used to hype movies in those days. European producers use similar terms but with different meanings.

Canned Whole Ripe Olives (other than tree-ripened)
Size: Small Medium Large Extra Large Jumbo Colossal Super Colossal
# per lb: 128–140 106–121 91–105 65–88 51–60 41-50 < 41
Approximate diameter.
millimeters
 16-17 17-19 19-20 20-22 22-24 24-26 26 and over

USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service,
United States Standards for Grades of Canned Ripe Olives.
[42 FR 38585, July 29, 1977, as amended at 46 FR 39564, Aug. 4, 1981. Redesignated at 46 FR 63203, Dec. 31, 1981, and amended at 48 FR 41012, Sept. 13, 1983.]

 

This is at odds with more recent regulations regarding California olives:

Canned Whole Ripe Olives (other than tree-ripened)
Size
Designation
Count per pound
Variety group 1 Variety group 2
Ascolano,
Barouni,
St. Agostino
Other than
Ascolano,
Barouni,
St. Agostino
Obliza Other than
Obliza
*Sub-petite  >180
*Petite 141-180
Small NA NA NA 128-140
Medium NA NA 106-127 106-127
Large 91-105 NA 91-105 91-105
Extra Large 65-90 65-75 65-90 65-90
*Extra Large Sevillano "L" 76-88
*Extra Large Sevillano "C" 65-75
Jumbo 47-60 47-60 47-60 47-60
Colossal 33-46 33-46 33-46 33-46
Super Colossal 32 or fewer 32 or fewer 32 or fewer 32 or fewer

Tolerances are set by variety of olive.

7 CFR Ch. IX (1-1-07 Edition) §932.152.

Green Olives
Name # Number
per pound
Approx. Number
per kilogram
(smaller than Sub-Petite)   221 or more more than 420
Sub-Petite 00 181-220 400-420
Petite or Midget 0 141–180 300–400
Small or Select or Standard 1 128–140 280-300
Medium 2 106–127 240-260
Large 3 91-105 200-220
Extra Large 4 76-90 160-200
Mammoth 5 65-75 140-160
Giant 6 53-64 120-140
Jumbo 7 42 -52 90-120
Colossal 8 33 to 41 70-90
Super Colossal 9 32 or less 60–70

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture,
United States Standards for Green Olives.
Effective September 8, 1967.

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