Sunday, 26 June 2011

My olive curing recipe

Olive Pickling Instructions

There are two stages in preparing olives. The first stage is all about getting rid of the bitterness and this takes about two months, less for the darker, black olives, while the second stage is where you start adding flavour.

First stage, involves soaking olives in water for a week and then brine for 6-8 weeks. Some people use caustic soda on the green olives, but I do the old fashioned recipe which uses salt only.

Here's what you do from woe to go:

Pick olives when the fruit begins to turn from plain green to pink and purplish black. After picking treat them straight away while they are still fresh and hard. Remove any soft or damaged olives and rinse in clean water in a bucket. Make a fine slit in the side of each olive, using a very sharp knife. This cutting will draw out the bitterness and will allow the water and salt soaking brine to penetrate the olive.

Place all olives in bowl with fresh water and make sure they are under the liquid. You can place a plate on top to keep the olives submerged. Pour the liquid away each day and replace with fresh water. After a week alter this routine so that the soaking liquid consists of 10% salt. To make this solution and ensure the salt is dissolved, bring the salt and water mixture to the boil and allow to cool before adding to the olives. I cook up a few litres of this solution and store it. The amount you need will depend on how many olives you have. Use this salt solution for soaking the olives and every three days or so change the salt water. Do this until the olives are no longer too bitter, which may take 6 to 8 weeks. Then the olives are ready for the second stage.

Second stage
Pour off and measure the last lot of water so that you will know the volume of salt brine that will be required. Measure that quantity of fresh, warm water into a pan and dissolve the salt, this time at the rate of 1/2 cup of salt to 10 cups of water. Place olives in clean sterilised bottles with some dried garlic, some chillies and a teaspoon of lemon juice per litre. Then pour the salt water brine over the olives they are completely submerged. Top up bottles with up to one centimetre of olive oil to stop air getting to the fruit and seal the lids on. No further preparation is required and the bottled olives will store for at least 12 months in a cool cupboard.

When you are ready to eat your olives, pour out the strong preserving solution and fill the jar with clean, cool water. Leave in the refrigerator for a further 24 hours. (The plain water leaches some of the salt back out of the olives.) At this stage you can also add any or all of the following flavourings: grated garlic, basil, oregano, chopped onion, red capsicum, lemon juice and lemon pieces. You can also use the olives just as they are, along with other things as a pizza topping.

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