Friday, January 7, 2005

Apple #22: Pimiento

I finished a jar of green olives the other day. I've looked up the word pimiento before but I couldn't remember what it is. So here's what it is:

  • A sweet red pepper, heart-shaped, somewhat small. It's sweeter than the typical red bell pepper available in grocery stores everywhere.
  • Pimiento is the Spanish word for "pepper." The Spanish word originates with the Latin pimiento, which means "pigment or spice."
  • Sometimes the word is spelled pimento
  • It's possible that the reason pimientos are stuffed into olives is that all olives, no matter how ripe, "have a vile, intensely bitter taste." (What is it with people wanting to eat nasty-tasting things, in spite of their nastiness?) The pimiento may help to counteract the olive's bitterness. That and all the soaking in alkaline and brine and the fermenting you have to do to an olive to get rid of the bitter substance inherent in it.
  • When olives are processed, a punching machine pushes a metal pin into the olive from one end and forces the pit out the other. If you look at the bottom of the olive, you'll see an x where the punch entered. The larger hole is where the pit came out.
  • Next, the pimiento, cut into strips, is fed into a machine in rolls. This machine inserts the pimiento into the hole where the pit was.
  • Large quantities of pimiento are also used to make paprika.

The pimiento, not yet in an olive:


Ask Yahoo What is a pimento and why is it in my olive?
Hormel's Glossary of Kitchen and Food Terms, Pimiento entry
Compact Oxford English Dictionary, pimiento entry
Australian Consumer's Choice Association, Olives: You may not have wanted to know this
UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, Spices Exotic Flavors & Medicines

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