Fresh Home Cured Olives
Being from a Greek family and my wife’s step father being Italian we both enjoy some good olives when we can find them. Usually we like those that are still in the brine and not so much the ones that you purchase in the jars. However in a pinch either will do just nicely.
Although I would certainly enjoy growing my own olive tree I unfortunately reside in an area of the country which simply does not have the proper climate to support such growth. In all my searching I have not encountered any sort of olive tree that can grow in the state of Delaware.
Therefore I must be content to merely locate and purchase olives which are already processed. In all reality you can not process your own olives in a cost efficient manner as cheaply as you can purchase them in a grocery store but if you only want the experience then this is for you. In the event that you are fortunate enough to locate some fresh olives I would like to provide you with a recipe that I have encountered some time back. You are surely going to enjoy the fruits of this labor!
This recipe is for Lebanese Style olives cured in natural brine. You are certain to discover that these particular olives are one of the best that you will likely encounter. I did not create this recipe I merely acquired it in my internet travels and modified it according to my particular taste. As such I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
The complete time involved from the start to the finish is approximately 3 weeks for curing and even this depends upon several variables such as how ripe your olives are when you purchase them or the variety of olive that you select to cure.
Your first course of action must be to obtain fresh olives. In the event that you can obtain fresh olives from areas such as California then the best time of the year to do so will be during the first part of November. If you wait until Thanksgiving to get your olives you may possibly find that they are a bit too ripe at that time. When olives are too ripe they start to shrivel up and are not very good for curing.
In my case since I reside in Delaware I would have to rely upon one of the farmers markets to obtain my olives. When you are selecting your olives you will want to look for only the firmest and freshest looking fruit that you can find. If they are wrinkled then you do not want them. Make sure that the olives you obtain are not infected with any sort of bugs.
The recipe that I am going to give to you can be used with just about any olive variety at just about any stage of maturity that you can get your hands on. Keep in mind that the riper the olive is the sooner it will cure. Olives that are extremely ripe will be darker in color and much softer then most.
Many people prefer to separate the olives by ripeness or color however this is really an un-necessary act that you can forego. Just mix them all together and enjoy the great taste of the final product.
To start with you should wash the olives very well with plenty of cold water. Next you will need to crack open each olive. The best way to do this is by use of a wooden pestle if you happen to have a mortar and pestle in your kitchen. Your goal is to open each of the fruits so that the flesh inside is slightly exposed. You will create an opening at one end of the olive. You only require one opening on the olive. It can get very messy so you would be wise to accomplish this task outside the home.
You may find that you will need to hit some olives several times to open them o0r perhaps a few of the olives may split completely in half. You might even encounter some that turns to mush when you hit them. These are minor items and you should not concern yourself with it as they all come out tasting great in the end.
With this in mind if you are using very ripe olives which are a bit on the soft side you can not use the above technique or you will have nothing more then mush at your disposal. If these are characteristic of your olives then just use a sharp kitchen knife and make four slits along the length of the olives in various locations. As you can see you really would not want to pick those totally ripe olives at the market.
Next you will need to put all your opened olives into a stainless steel pot filled with cold water. This procedure allows any bitterness in the olive to leach into the water. Be mindful that you are not using any sort of salt at this time.
Eave the olives rest in this cold water for a 24 hour period. After which rinse them off and refill the pot with cold water for another 24 hour soaking. The following day you will once again rinse the olives and fill the pot with water to soak them for yet another 24 hours. After this 24 hours is up you drain and rinse the olives again now you will place them in salt water brine.
To make the salt solution mix 3/4 of a cup of salt in 6 cups of cold water. Place the olives in a glass jar and fill the jar with salt water. Place a layer of oil on the very top of the jar to prevent air from getting to the olives. I use olive oil however you could very well use Mazola oil.
The olives will need to sit in this solution for two weeks. cake sure that the brine is extremely salty and use ordinary Morton iodized salt. You could try to use salts such as Kosher or Sea Salt but it does not seem to like curing at all. Usually the results of using those salts are less then acceptable.
When I cure olives I like to use the large glass jars. Don’t use plastic jars for this task. Every couple of days you must open the jar and check for mold. If you find any mold on the jar merely wipe it off with a cloth. Mold will naturally form upon the rim of the glass just above the liquid level. You can perhaps disrupt the mold by stirring the liquid so that the mold get’s into the brine.
Gas will form during the curing process and is of no concern. Simply shake the jar slightly to get rid of the gas. You can begin eating your olives at this time but the remaining ones will lose their bitter taste in about 6 months. Never change the salt water after you begin to cure the olives. Changing the water will not come out very successful if you do. Once you have placed them in the brine leave then there until it is completed.
Now that you have cured your olives you can take some out of the large jar and place them in the smaller olive jars. The remaining olives which stay in the large jar and continue to cure. When you transfer your olives from the large jar to the small one add a little lemon at this time. Don’t fret if some of the lemon pulp accidentally gets in with the olives. Mix the brine from the large jar with your lemon juice and finally add some olive oil to the jar. Place the lid firmly on the jar and shake it to mix it all up. You can now enjoy your olives.