Olives are one of those acquired tastes, but Ben and I love them. Kim on the other hand is not so fussed, but will eat them if I put them into a pasta sauce.
So to keep up with supply, it was time for me to begin curing black olives for this season. In our area, olive usually ripen between May and July depending on the variety.
Now because my own olive trees are not quite old enough to produce a crop, I was fortunately gifted some from my friend Jabir. He brought in a 2kg bag of freshly picked olives ready to cure.
Curing olives are quite easy and not very time-consuming. I prefer the soak and brine method myself.
The soak part of the process is quite easy and there are two ways you can do this. You can slice each berry top to bottom without cutting into the pip then soak in tap water for 14 days, change it daily (check out this method for curing olives here), or as I tried this year, just leave them whole, soak in water, change daily for 4 weeks.
At the end of each of these two methods, just make sure you taste one of the berries to ensure that the majority of the bitterness is gone. If not, soak for another week and try again.
Then it is time for the brining stage. Get two large jars, sanitize in boiling water and allow to dry.
I used two saved Moccona coffee jars for this purpose. Then in a large saucepan add two litres of water and 1 cup of table salt. Make sure that you stir until all the salt is dissolved. If there is a bit of salt on the bottom of the saucepan, warm up the brine to help dissolve all the salt. Allow the brine to cool to room temperature.
Place your drained and rinsed olives into the jars, allowing about 4cm head room.
Once the jars are filled, pour in the brine just to the top of the olives. Give the jar a gentle tap on your worktop to remove any trapped bubbles of air.
Pour a 1cm layer of olive oil to cover the olives. This keeps olive in the brine and ensure that they are not exposed to any air. Place the lid on the jar and set aside in a dark place for five to six weeks while the black olive cure further. Try the olives at the 5 week mark, and if still a little bland, allow another week in the brine.
After the brining time has completed, you can eat them to your heart’s content! To store them, just leave them in the jar, brine and all, ensuring that the layer of olive oil remains intact.
I have kept cured black olives for over a year in this state, with them still tasting amazing.
With so many olive trees in parks and on nature strips around the country, it is easy to pick your fill and cure your own olives. Just make sure that you ask permission, in case the trees are someone’s pride and joy!
Do you cure your own olives? What method do you use?