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curing olives

We actually managed to harvest olives this year!  Some years – most years in fact – we’re a bit too slow.  I play chicken with the birds and lose. I like black olives better than green, so I wait and watch the trees, laden, ripening. Then one day, just at the point where I’m thinking best not to risk waiting any longer, I check and they’re all gone.  All….gone.

Maybe I jumped in a little early this year.  Only one jar of black olives, and the rest are green, but a decent harvest and … I can learn to like green olives.

We’re using a southern Italian method of curing.  The black olives are left as is, but the green olives are cracked with my garlic rock, before being put in jars and covered with fresh water.  Cracking just involves hitting them hard enough to split, but not so hard as to crush. I drain them and change the water every day for two weeks, then put them in a strong brine solution ( 1/3 cup salt to every 1 litre of water)  and leave for three months.  Then I drain off the brine and cover with olive oil, packing in some preserved lemon, dried herbs, garlic, and chili.

The last of last year’s olives were the centre of the platter this week, and for green olives, they were pretty good after a year of curing.  Marinated olives, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, grilled haloumi, marinated green beans, pomegranate juice with soda water and ice. Yum.


{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Africanaussie February 19, 2013, 3:00 pm

    Oh wow you do grow quite a varied assortment of foods. I bet home grown and home cured olives are fantastic.

  • Elaine coolowl February 19, 2013, 5:06 pm

    You do realise I’m going to move in with you, don’t you! 😉 Home-cured Olives and organic to boot. I’ve made some using a similar recipe except I bought the Olives from the fruit shop and it was his mum’s recipe I used. Have you ever tried making oil?

  • Linda February 19, 2013, 6:50 pm

    You wouldn’t cope with my housekeeping skills Elaine, and I’d get the better of the deal in being able to pick your brains! I’ve never tried making olive oil. It was a fantasy, but saving enough olives from the birds to make it worthwhile might be a challenge. Cooking oil is one of the major gaps in my homegrown.

  • Liz February 19, 2013, 9:11 pm

    Oh that platter sounds perfect. I tried curing olives a couple of years ago but i got paranoid about poisoning the kids and ended up throwing out half of them. I will try again though as my anxiety levels are more under control these days.

  • Linda February 20, 2013, 9:07 am

    It is interesting, the fears we have about food safety, and the direction they take. Fermenting food is much safer than you tend to think – who would ever think that keeping milk warm for 24 hours was a good idea, but that’s exactly how yoghurt is made. Salt has been valuable for all of human history, mostly because it is such an effective and safe food preservative.

  • Tracey February 20, 2013, 9:19 am

    drooling at the sight of olives…. and homegrown olives too!
    I have an olive tree. Have had it for years – first in a pot and then when we moved here (7 years ago) it went in the ground. Its a beautiful little tree now. In the year I got it, it produced one olive, and back then, I didn’t know olives needed treating, so I put in straight in my mouth and bit….. ewwww… nearly put me off olives forever! Since then, sadly, my tree has produced nothing. Then this year, someone told me I need another one for pollination – is this true? Do you know? And if so, do they need to be the same variety? Also, do you prune your olive trees?
    Thanks Linda!

  • Linda February 20, 2013, 9:36 am

    Yes, raw olives taste so amazingly bad, you wonder how anyone first came up with the concept that they might be edible! Most olive varieties will pollinate themselves, and if not, they cross pollinate in sets of varieties, so they don’t have to be the same type, but from the same group. They do take a long time to mature though. Our best bearing tree is about 20 years old now, and the younger ones are much less productive. My books say 5 to 7 years before bearing. We do prune, just because the trees otherwise get so tall and spindly they’re impossible to pick. Now the olives are harvested, we’ll cut the trees back to keep them at a semi-manageable size.

  • CanberraGreenie February 21, 2013, 3:22 pm

    Wow! They look so fantastic and your most recent post about galangal and ginger etc just inspires me further. I have a kaffir lime against a North West wall that has successfully lasted two winters now so I’m thinking I might pop some ginger and lemongrass, galangal and Vietnamese mint in with it.

    Thanks also for the tip about yoghurt instead of coconut milk – inspired!
    Greenie x

  • Linda February 21, 2013, 4:24 pm

    Canberra would be at the limit of the range I would think, but if you have a nice warm spot, well worth giving it a go. Turmeric would be the most likely to cope with the cold, I would think, because it dies right back in winter.

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