Preserving olives. The process.

Preserving olives. The process.

After a day of harvesting my brother -in-law’s olive trees, I found myself with a massive bucket of olives and a ton of information on how to best preserve them. As mentioned in my previous post, I decided to brine the majority of the olives and also salt dry a small portion, to test a couple of different methods.

Easy right? You would think so! There are many different ways to brine olives apparently. After a lot of reading, I took the parts that made sense to me and combined them all together…

Here’s what I did:

Olives in brine

  • Instead of slitting the olives down either side, I made made a little incision on each side of the olive with a small knife.  I’m not going to lie to you, this takes a while! It took me a good 1.5 hours to get through a bucket of olives.
  • I throughly washed an 11lt bucket with lid, placed the olives inside and then covered them with water.  The olives do float on the top, which I believe causes them to go bad after a few days so I put a ceramic plate on top to push them under the water.
  • I stored the olives in the bottom of my pantry, in a dark spot and changed the water each day for 10 days.
  • On the 10th day I drained the water off and gave the olives one last rinse. I then spooned all the olives into 2 x 3lt jars that I had sterilised.
  • Next, I made my brine by filling a large saucepan with water and heating it on the stove top over medium heat.  I added a good handful of salt and got the salt to water ratio right (well i think i did) using the floating egg method.  If an uncooked egg (in it’s shell) floats to the surface with part of the shell exposed (about the size of a 10 cent piece), then you have the right balance.
  • I let the brine cool and poured it into the jars full of olives.
  • Lastly, I drizzled olive oil into the top of the jars to create a seal.

Now I let them sit for at least 5 weeks before tasting and then I think continual tasting is the idea until they taste like olives should…not bitter little morsels.

Providing I reach this point eventually, I will then transfer the olives into smaller jars and store them in olive oil, with spices and herbs.

Salt dried olives – more mature black olives

  • As with the olives in brine, I pierced each olive on either side.  I let them soak in a bowl of water overnight, with a plate on top to keep them all submerged.
  • The following day I drained them and sterilised a couple of jars with lids.
  • I layered sea salt flakes in the bottom of each jar, added 2 layers of olives and then covered with salt. I repeated this process with the remaining olives.
  • Then I put the jars in the bottom of my pantry where they will stay for at least 3 weeks. The salt draws all of the moisture out of the olives and they become wrinkly. I can already see the olive/salt mixture getting soggy from the moisture.
  • Every few days I turn the jars over and give them a bit of a shake, topping up with more salt as needed.

The salt dried olives should take about 3 weeks until they are ready.  At which point, you taste them and then store them in oil.  Let’s hope in a couple of weeks time my ‘sultana’ olives taste as good as they are supposed to!

I’ll post again soon with the outcome….I’m really hoping the olives are edible…. It’s a long process to go through if not!

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