Welcome to my short journey on pickling or curing olives. I watched a YouTube video from a guy in Australia that was very helpful in setting me up to pickle olives. The ingredients are relatively simple, water, salt, and of course olives. The other key ingredient is time. This isn’t an overnight job. You need a few weeks to produce your olives.
I sourced the olives from a friend’s place that has quite a few olive trees. However, she is not inclined to use them. So I went over with some buckets and a ladder and picked a couple of half buckets of olives. The aforementioned YouTube video made me an expert because some of the olives would appear from his description to be Kalamata olives. The other olives were round.
I decided for better or worse to stone the round olives. I did this manually and it took me about an hour or so to do about half a9 l bucket. They were then rinsed and then put in a bucket with about half a cup of salt. The other olives, the so-called Kalamata olives I just washed and then put them in another bucket with about the same amount of salt and waited.
Judging when the olives have been soaking in the brine for long enough is a matter of taste. The YouTube guy recommended simply tasting them and when they are no longer bitter, they’re ready to be put in jars. In the case of the pitted olives this took about 3 weeks. The whole olives, the Kalamata olives, took the better part of 6 weeks until they were no longer bitter to the taste.
I followed my usual procedure for sterilising jars as I do when making jam or pickles. The jars were washed, cleaned and then put in the oven at about 100° c for about an hour. It’s worth noting that the lids should not be put in the oven as they tend to blister. The jars are largely what I’ve collected from products that we buy and from friends.
When bottling the olives, the formula is fairly straightforward. A weak brine solution is made using a third of a cup of salt to 2 l of water. This is heated to about 50 or 60° centigrade. The olives are rinsed when they come out of the brine before bottling. The prepared brine is poured over the olives whilst it is still warm. It’s important not to overfill the jars because you need a bit of headroom. I added a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, half a teaspoon of mixed herbs and then dressing the top with some olive oil. With the Kalamata olives, I also added two cloves of garlic and some bay leaves. The flavourings are a matter of personal choice.
Then it’s just a waiting game. It’s recommended to leave the jars for at least 2 weeks to allow the flavours to be absorbed by the olives. I also labelled the jars with the ingredients so I can remember what was added and dated.. The initial results of the pitted olives are, according to my wife, a little salty. If I can get some small olives next year I might have another go, but this time I won’t bother with pitting the olives because it actually makes them quite soft. So I’m hoping that the Kalamata olives will come out better. Below is the you tube video I mentioned