Native to Mediterranean, Asia and Africa regions, olives are grown all over the world for medicinal and culinary uses. The olive requires a long hot growing season for proper ripening, but that doesn't mean that the trees can't be grown in cooler climates. It is important to know that olive trees can't live in temperatures below 12 degrees Fahrenheit, and the fruit may be damaged at 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Choosing the right variety for cooler weather is crucial.
Mission olives get their name from the region where they are grown: MIssion, California. This medium-sized, oval-shaped olive has a color ranging from deep violet to black. This olive tree can survive cooler temperatures better than many cultivars, with fast-growing branches that become very heavy with fruit during ripening seasons. The bitter-tasting olive has meaty flesh and is ideal for making olive oil and pickling.
Ascolano olive trees are known for their twisted and gnarled branches with bright green leaves. This tree can grow very large, but the olives have a surprisingly delicate flavor. This olive tree variety is the most cold-tolerant of all Tuscan cultivars, but you must be careful during harvest as the fruit bruises easily. When ripe, the Ascolano olives are green, slightly sweet and with tender flesh. Ascolano olives are best for producing a light dainty olive oil.
This olive tree variety is one of the most cold-tolerant varieties, and can also adapt to several types of climates, not just cooler ones. Arbequina is a fairly small tree, growing only to about 15 feet tall. On the bright side, it bears large, meaty fruit after only three years. Originally from Spain, these olives can be eaten raw, cured or pressed for olive oil.