Olives April 21, 2010Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Vegetables.
Now we’re getting into really slow cooking. For bacon – you’re looking at a week exactly. Sourdough – more like a couple of weeks if you have to get a starter going. But for olives, it’s 3 weeks minimum – and it’s more like 4 to 6 weeks. Having never tried to make olives before, I picked some fresh ones up from my greengrocer purely to see if an olive experiment would work. I roughly followed the instructions here in curing my olives. Here are the tools I started with.
To start, I had to cut or bash open each olive, which helps not only in the eventual brining process, but also in drawing out the bitterness from the fresh olive. Here’s what an olive looks like when you bash it with the end of a rolling pin.
And here’s a crime scene shot for the new CSI: Olive – this is what happens when you bash a bunch of olives and their juice shoots out!
After I’d bashed all the olives, I put them in a casserole container and added water to cover them, and a fair amount of salt. I put a small plate on top of the olives, to ensure they all stayed properly submerged. Here’s what they looked like when I first put them in.
I changed the water daily, re-salting them as I went. After about a week they had changed colour a bit – but were still quite bitter when I tried them.
After 2 weeks of changing the water daily, they were no longer bitter when I ate a bit. They were still quite firm but at least were beginning to resemble olives! At this point, I could make a brine and start to pickle them. I made a brine of salt, water and a bit of vinegar, and added chopped garlic, lemon, lime, oregano and parsley (mainly because I didn’t have a lot of fresh herbs to choose from!). I decided to use a combination of lemon and lime, as I had both and decided that it would make a nice variation. I put the garlic and spices in the bottom of the jar, put some olives in, added more garlic and spices, then more olives, until I got to the top of the jar. Then I carefully poured in the brine solution, and floated some olive oil on the top (the olive oil is meant to ensure that none of the olives are exposed to the air during the pickling process, which can make them go off).
And then I left them for a bit longer, in a dark cupboard. The recipe said to leave them a week, but I found that the flavour had not properly penetrated into the olives in this time. These olives were all quite large so I’m not sure if that affected it. Anyway, I left them for almost another full other week – sneaking a couple of olives here and there – before I decided they were done. At this point I put the jars in the fridge to stop the pickling process, and got down to the fine art of eating olives.
So, a full month after I’d started my olive process, I finally had olives I could eat! And it was absolutely worth the wait. The olives were delicious, with the different flavours penetrating into the olive without any being overwhelming. The addition of the limes as well as the lemons gave the olives a bit more citrus than I’m used to, but this was definitely a positive thing. The parsley and garlic also provided depth of flavour. Now the main problem is the rate at which the olives are disappearing compared to the time it will take me to make more!