Sunday, February 10, 2013

Food I'm Eating: Olives (2013)

I picked olives from our tree the day before yesterday, hoping to repeat the success I had two years ago making olives for the first time. Last year most olives trees in the area produced virtually no fruit. Olives seem to alternate heavy crops and it rained heavily during flowering last year as well. Picking now was a bit late. The fruit appears more than optimally ripe (a lot has fallen and what was left on the tree was beginning to shrivel a little). On the upside, the olives are somewhat bigger than two years ago, when I picked in mid-January. My neighbor's tree is a much better variety, with bigger, meatier fruits. They allowed me to take what was left on their tree as well.

So, I have about eight quarts or so of two varieties (both unknown) now soaking in brine, using the same solution I used two years ago (a quarter cup of kosher salt to one quart of water). I slit the olives with a knife before brining them, as the recipes instruct. The break in the skin allows the salt to soak in and the bitter components in the olives to leach out. We'll see how it goes.... Meanwhile, my hard cider is still bubbling away on day 11 of fermentation. Testing the liquid, it tastes of alcohol, but is still slightly sweet. I'm guessing it will take another five to six days or so for the fermentation to go to completion. Then I'll need to rack the cider a couple of times to clear it of solids and then bottle it, dosing it with a touch of sugar before putting the caps on, which will cause a secondary fermentation in the bottle, adding that touch of carbonation that makes a good cider refreshing--that's the theory anyway. Cider is a new realm of exploration for me.


  1. I've tried curing olives from abandoned trees in the Languedoc. In 2011 I tried brine but the results were still bitter, plus I suspect some varieties simply eat better than others.
    In 2012 I selected green (unripe) olives and used Caustic Soda which is a much faster process. Very successful, but I may have overdone it as they went a bit soft after a few months.

  2. I wonder how long you brined the olives for? It seems to take about five weeks for the very small olives on our tree, another one-two weeks for the larger ones I get from my neighbor's tree. Some definitely ARE much better than others. I've planted some from my neighbor's tree in the hope of someday having an ample supply I don't have to go begging for.


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