Imagine taking a stroll through the Italian countryside. A gentle breeze is blowing through your hair as you find yourself wandering toward a lovely grove of olive trees. The olives hanging off of them are ripe and plump, just waiting to be picked. So you reach up into an abundant bough, pluck off a ripe fruit, pop it into your mouth, and… well, let’s just say that you’ll be regretting that decision for a while.
When eaten raw, olives are extremely bitter and, for all intents and purposes, completely inedible. Not only is the texture completely different from what you’ll find after they’ve been processed (they’re more mealy and mushy), they also contain a substance called oleuropein that makes them bitter. In order to remove the oleuropein, the olives need to be cured by either packing them in salt or submerging them in a liquid solution of lye or brine.
So while it may sound tempting, if you find yourself near an olive tree, you really don’t want to be sampling its fruit.