Posts Categorized: olives

The humble olive: how to cure your own

Three years ago I went on a boozy winery tour with a busload of artist mates. Somehow along the way I managed not only to buy two small olive trees, but also two magnificent French oak wine barrels to plant them in. Once I had persuaded the bus driver to let me manoeuvre the barrels onboard, I also had to convince the other passengers to help me load them off and back on at every winery so we could exit and re-board the bus. Let’s just say I can do without another rendition of ‘roll out the barrels’. Three years later, planted in their barrels in inner city Melbourne, my olive trees have fruited madly. Perhaps it’s the West-facing position, combined with the heat-retaining brick wall behind them, but these trees have done their best at an astonishingly early age. So what to do with them? Fortunately during a sobering coffee the next morning, the proprietor of the olive tree shop gave me some simple advice, which I followed. First I picked my olives as they began to change colour and soften. Not too soft, just a bit of give when you squeeze them. I then made up a salt solution of 100g salt to 1 litre of water. Some recipes suggest making a cut in each olive, pricking them with a fork, or smashing them with the bottom end of a beer bottle to hasten the curing, but I am continually time-poor and am happy to let them be. Over the next few weeks I changed the salt solution roughly every week or ten days, and the olives gradually darkened, while the salt drew out the bitterness. I kept this up until the bitterness disappeared, and left them in clean water for a few more days to remove more salt. Once the bitterness is removed it’s time to bottle. I chose to put mine in sterilised glass jars with a fresh salt solution of I part vinegar to 4 parts brine. I threw in a few dried chillies, garlic, peppercorns and a couple of bay leaves before filling the jars almost to the top, and then topped them up to the brim with olive oil to seal them. There are a few expensive stoneware olive-curing pots on the market, which have an inner perforated disc to keep the olives submerged. The important thing is to fill the containers to… Read more »