How to pickle olives

The recently arrived olive plants also came with instructions on how to pickle the olives that, sometime in the future, we will have enough of to share with friends and family. So I thought I might share it here.

Place the olives on a clean stone surface or cutting board, and bruise them with another stone or hammer. Alternatively, prick several times with a fork, or make three slits in the skin of each olive with a small serrated knife, while turning the fruit between the thumb and index finger. This bruising, pricking or cutting will allow the water and salt to penetrate the fruit, thereby drawing out the bitterness, and also preserving it. This will also do away with the need to use a caustic soda solution as used in commercial processing of olives.

Place them immediately into a bucket of clean water in which one half cup of coarse or cooking salt has been dissolved into every ten cups of water. A clean plate can be placed on top to ..keep the olives submerged. All olives must be under the liquid. Pour the liquid away each day and replace with fresh salt water. Repeat this washing process for about 12 days for green olives and about 10 days for black (ripe) olives. The best test is to bite an olive. When the bitterness has nearly gone, the olives are ready for the final salting.

Pour off and measure the last lot of water so that you will know the volume of salt brine that will be required. Pour that measured quantity of fresh, warm water into a pan and dissolve the salt, this time at the rate of 1 cup of salt to 10 cups of water. Bring the salt water preserving mixture to the boil and allow to cool. Place olives in bottles and then pour the salt water brine over them until the fruit is completely submerged. Top up bottles with up to one centimetre of olive oil to stop air getting to the fruit, and seal the lids on. No further preparation is required and the bottled olives will store for at least 12 months in a cool cupboard.

When you are ready to eat your olives, pour out the strong preserving solution and fill the jar with clean, cool water. Leave in the refrigerator for a further 24 hours. (The plain water leaches some of the salt back out of the olives.) At this stage you can also add any or all of the following flavourings: Grated garlic, basil, oregano, chopped onion, red capsicum, lemon juice and lemon pieces. Especially popular is a combination of garlic, basil and lemon juice.

Now sit back and enjoy the unique flavour of your own olives.

If you are lucky enough to know where there is a wild olive tree or two you don’t even need to grow your own to have a constant supply of wonderful olives.

Enjoy.

Franky

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