17 May

Have You Ever Wondered How Bitter Olives From A Tree Become Edible?

Pick an olive off any olive tree and pop it nto your mouth. Now chew it… Did it taste good? No – It didn’t taste too good the time I tried it either! Olives, with few exceptions, that are found on trees are hard, bitter and not at all like the succulent things you find in supermarkets.

The secret is in the curing…

And once they have been cured they can be stored with any number of flavoring to give your cured olives a very distinctive taste of its own. The procedure is as follows:

For green olives, crack the olive meat with a mallet or similar object, then steep it in cold water, in a pan for several days. You should change the water several times during this time. You are removing the bitterness, so check by tasting an olive or two until the bitterness is gone.

When the olives have lost their bitterness they are ready for the next stage. Prepare a large pan with a 1 to 10 ratio of sea water (preferably) to ordinary water: that is, one part sea water to ten parts ordinary water.

It will take several days, perhaps three or four, before the olives can be eaten. That’s it! That’s all it takes to cure your own olives.

For black olives the procedure is slightly different. Slice through the meat of the olives from top to bottom with a sharp knife, but not cutting the pips, then steep the olives in a brine solution – 1 part sea water to ten parts ordinary water – for three weeks. During this time you will need to change the water three or four times and shake up the olive / brine solution vigorously at least once a day.

If, after three weeks they taste horrible, then leave them for another week and check again. Keep doing this until they are ready. When they are ready you need to store them in such a way that they will retain their good flavour. Prepare a jar, or jars, of solution with one parts sea water to ten parts ordinary water. Add four or five tablespoons of vinegar – red vinegar works well – and seal the top with a stopper of olive oil – a thin layer to keep the flavour in.

There are other ways to improve the flavour of olives, but the foregoing works well. Experiment a little and see if you can improve on it. I’ll bet you can!