Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Curing your own olives

I love the fall. Signs of the cooler weather to come abound with the leaves changing colour, the winter vegetable seedlings starting to sprout and the last of the summer crops are eaten.

One of our autumn crops we started processing was the first of our olive harvest. One of the branches from our tree was hanging low over our neighbours driveway, so we pruned this off and harvested the olives. The recipe I use to cure my olives you can find here. I have found it produces excellent results, and is simple to use. We use a 30 litre barrel used in home brew to soak our olives in, and I leave my olives in the salt brine for around six months, changing the brine roughly monthly. I then soak them in fresh water for a week to remove excess salt, and bottle with herbs and spices along with a the new brine solution of salt and vinegar in sterilized jars. The spices I have used in the past include: whole peppercorns, whole garlic cloves (peeled), bay leaves, dried oregano, thyme, chilli flakes, and rosemary. I found this combination of herbs produces a lovely aromatic olive great for all different sorts of cooking or just eaten raw as a starter. I've also played around with adding different flavours to the olives, such as tequilla and lime zest, and an extra hot and spicy jar requested by a friend by adding a few extra tablespoons of dried chilli flakes. (He said they were good and hot!) The point is, use what herbs you like, and feel free to experiment with different flavours. Maybe try an asian inspired brine, using garlic, ginger, chilli, and maybe some karrif lime. The possibilities are endless! I first add the spices to the hot sterilised jars, then pack the jars tightly with the olives, ladle over the new salt and vinegar brine, and cover with olive oil. There should be enough oil on top to completely cover all the olives and keep them from oxidizing. Then I keep them in a cool dark cupboard or the fridge.
Hopefully you'll get inspired and maybe even plant an olive tree in your own back yard and will get to experience the joy of home grown, cured and delicious olives.
Olives curing in barrel

The rest of the olive tree that remains to be picked

Olives turning from green to black

30L barrel full of olives and brining

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