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Curing olives


monkeymay
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Our local store has some fresh olives. Having never tasted one, I popped one in my mouth. Needless to say, I won't make that mistake again. I'm going to take my revenge by curing a bunch, in several different ways. It seems like a smart thing to do, so that I can find out which method I prefer.

I'll report back when they are all done. See you in a few months :biggrin:

"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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  • 2 months later...

so i have been brine curing my fresh green olives for about 3 months (i did not slit them, so it took a looong time). they are just about where i want them now, bitterness-wise, so i'd like to "de-brine" them and then flavor them with spices--maybe fennel, lemon and chile flakes?

do i just make a weak brine solution, or a vinegar-water solution, or olive oil (it seems like it would take a LOT of olive oil...i have about 4 quarts of olives)?

i'm very excited about my olive babies, and would appreciate any guidance!

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

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Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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  • 8 months later...

I was just at my neighbors picking figs and pomegranates and noticed that they have an olive tree bearing quite a bit of fruit. They told me I could have the olives if I wanted them...............

Most are still green with some starting to turn purplish. I've read the threads on curing but haven't gotten a good sense for what is best~ water or a salt solution? Flavored during curing or after? Green or purple?

I am open to all suggestions and instruction ! :raz:

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For brining we pick the Olives just as they start to turn a golden hue.

Prepare a 12% brine solution by mixing 120 grams of salt per Liter of water.

We bruise the olives using one of two methods. For small batches, use a paring knife to slit every olive, for larger quantities we use a flat weight like a meat tenderizer to whack the olives, few at a time.

Fill jars with olives and cover with brine, place a slice of lemon or two for every 2 quart jar along with sprigs of savory or oregano if you wish.

Should be ready in a month.

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  • 3 months later...

Fascinating. Olive curing is definitely going on my to-do list.

A couple of questions or the experts: does fruit size affect flavor? what are the pros/cons of storing a cured oil in oil?

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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  • 7 months later...

It's that time of year again.

We just jarred 10 pounds of medium sized olives.

These will be ready to eat in a month.

gallery_39290_6232_25251.jpg

But, if you absolutely, positively must have Olives tomorrow , this is what you do:

We had no room for these olives in the jars(about half pound). They were already smashed. We added about a T of salt and a dash of olive oil to them.

gallery_39290_6232_32120.jpg

After stirring, this is what they look like.

gallery_39290_6232_25949.jpg

Tomorrow they'll look like this.

gallery_39290_6232_33375.jpg

I know they're not pretty, but they are delicious.

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Perfect timing, as I was just noticing that the olives on our tree are getting nice and plump. I think our olives are Picholines - will all types turn golden before they turn black? I missed that window last year and ended up not doing anything with them at all.

Oh, and do you leave them in the brine at room temp, or in the fridge?

Edited by Abra (log)
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It's that time of year again.

We just jarred 10 pounds of medium sized olives.

These will be ready to eat in a month.

gallery_39290_6232_25251.jpg

But, if you absolutely, positively must have Olives tomorrow , this is what you do:

We had no room for these olives in the jars(about half pound). They were already smashed. We added about a T of salt and a dash of olive oil to them.

gallery_39290_6232_32120.jpg

After stirring, this is what they look like.

gallery_39290_6232_25949.jpg

Tomorrow they'll look like this.

gallery_39290_6232_33375.jpg

I know they're not pretty, but they are delicious.

ChefCrash,

Those look great! A couple of questions if you don't mind-

Where did you get the fresh olives? Are you still using the cure you mentioned previously in this thread? Do you have to change the cure after you jar them?

Thanks so much,

Jeff

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Perfect timing, as I was just noticing that the olives on our tree are getting nice and plump.  I think our olives are Picholines - will all types turn golden before they turn black?  I missed that window last year and ended up not doing anything with them at all.

Oh, and do you leave them in the brine at room temp, or in the fridge?

The brined olives undergo a fermentation and should be kept at room temperature.

However, as the olives ferment the salt concentration decreases which can lead to spoilage(softening). If you intend to store the olives beyond a 3 or 4 month period, refrigeration will help.

ChefCrash,

Those look great! A couple of questions if you don't mind-

Where did you get the fresh olives? Are you still using the cure you mentioned previously in this thread? Do you have to change the cure after you jar them?

Thanks so much,

Jeff

Thanks Jeff

We bought a 10 lb box for $25 at a Middle Eastern store in Dearborn MI.

We followed the same recipe mentioned on page one of this thread. We don't change the brine.

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My big bag of olives has arrived, so I'm experimenting with various curing techniques.

So far I've got a bunch submerged under just ordinary water, uncracked. These are in a holding pattern, I think, until I figure out what to do with them next. I gather that if they stay under water for long enough, the bitterness will go away.

I've got some slit open and soaking in a 12% brine, like ChefCrash prescribes. A day into the soak and they're already shriveling and the brine is going brown.

In poking around the internet, I've found some references to an Italian (Apulian) style of curing called "alla Calce", which appears to use ashes and calcium hydroxide (aka slaked lime, not the citrus kind of lime). I'm a huge fan of the bright almost fluorescent green italian olives that Fairway sometimes carries, and I'm betting that they're cured with a method like this, so I've started a couple of experimental batches in pint glasses submerging slit olives in a mixture of fireplace ashes and pickling lime. One of them has some salt added to the alkali, the other is just pure alkali. My pH strips go bright blue (meaning 10+ pH) in these solutions. The liquid in the salted batch appears to be turning an orangey brown color after a day. The pure alkali solution hasn't begun to discolor yet.

I'd love to learn the chemical mechanics behind the olive curing process... what is it about alkali solutions that speeds the process? I'd imagine that brine has the same osmotic pressure for busting through cell walls as an alkali does... why's it work so much slower? Or are the quick cures that call for lye just super speedy because refined lye is so much more reactive and powerful than the more "natural" methods like wood ashes (from which lye was traditionally made).

Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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And when all your olives are beautifully cured, try smoking the black ones and/or making an olive/orange/date relish. I have recently tried both from a local producer and have fallen in love with them all over again.

Its a good thing. :smile:

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The most common way in my part of town is to take black olives - put them in a big jar (one that holds around 5-7 lbs ) - throw in a couple handfuls of coarse salt - shake it around and leave it on the counter or wherever suits you.

Shake it every day and pour out the water .... after a week or so you start to taste them - they are ready when they lose most of their bitterness.

At this point some people add a few cloves of garlic - orange peel and wild fennel stalks and continue to mix and pour every few days and in the meanwhile start eating them.

Others drain the olives and dry them off and then put them in glass jars with a clove of garlic - some orange peel and wild fennel stalks and then cover them with good olive oil.

Other people cover them with crappy oil or a mix of good and crappy oil.

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My big bag of olives has arrived, so I'm experimenting with various curing techniques.

So far I've got a bunch submerged under just ordinary water, uncracked. These are in a holding pattern, I think, until I figure out what to do with them next.  I gather that if they stay under water for long enough, the bitterness will go away.

I've got some slit open and soaking in a 12% brine, like ChefCrash prescribes.  A day into the soak and they're already shriveling and the brine is going brown.

In poking around the internet, I've found some references to an Italian (Apulian) style of curing called "alla Calce", which appears to use ashes and calcium hydroxide (aka slaked lime, not the citrus kind of lime).  I'm a huge fan of the bright almost fluorescent green italian olives that Fairway sometimes carries, and I'm betting that they're cured with a method like this, so I've started a couple of experimental batches in pint glasses submerging slit olives in a mixture of fireplace ashes and pickling lime.  One of them has some salt added to the alkali, the other is just pure alkali. My pH strips go bright blue (meaning 10+ pH) in these solutions. The liquid in the salted batch appears to be turning an orangey brown color after a day.  The pure alkali solution hasn't begun to discolor yet.

I'd love to learn the chemical mechanics behind the olive curing process...  what is it about alkali solutions that speeds the process?  I'd imagine that brine has the same osmotic pressure  for busting through cell walls as an alkali does... why's it work so much slower?  Or are the quick cures that call for lye just super speedy because refined lye is so much more reactive and powerful than the more "natural" methods like wood ashes (from which lye was traditionally made).

Hi cdh, the brine should not turn brown, an indication of the presence of spoilage bacteria. I would change the brine right away. The brine needs acidification in the form of lemon slices or Citric acid.

Photos please.

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OK, I've changed the brine... and here's a snap of the olives that have been in brine for a day. gallery_7416_6245_379530.jpg

And here are images of the olives in alkali solution:

gallery_7416_6245_374317.jpg

And here they are in an alkali and brine solution:

gallery_7416_6245_287308.jpg

I've got lots of citric around, so I'll add a teaspoon of that to the brine in the bowl... any target pH I'm shooting for in an acidified brine?

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Some of those olives sitting in their water bath have gone into another experiment. A bit more googling (thanks to google translator) led me to a better description of the Italian "alla Calce" method of curing here.

It seems this method is not limited to just Apulia, but is also practiced in Lazio. It calls for a 24 hour treatment of the olives with a paste composed of a 2:1 ratio of wood ash and pickling lime. Fortunately I've not cleaned out the wood stove recently, so there was plenty of hardwood ash to be had, and the Agway down the street had pickling lime. I mixed 33 grams of lime to 66 grams of ash in a ziplock bag, and added wet olives. The alkali mixture encrusted them fairly well.

Here's a snap: gallery_7416_6245_519426.jpg

I wonder if I need to add more water, or if that will be sufficient.

Anybody out there familiar with the alla Calce method of olive curing?

Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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I did add some more water to that bag, and let the olives go overnight. It appears that it was still too potent, insofar as a number of them have sloughed off their skins and some of them have gotten squishy. I'm now soaking the whole olives that survived in water to get the alkali out of them, and will then brine them.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Well, the alla calce olives did turn out to be what I hoped they'd be-- they're soft and buttery. They have a sort of avocado flavor and texture, which is greatly improved by some salt.

So, add another technique to the olive repertoire: 2 parts sifted fireplace ashes, 1 part pickling lime, made into a batter/paste. Treat olives 10-18 hours with the paste, rinse em off, and soak them in water, changing it daily for a week. Then brine em for flavor.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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  • 11 months later...

*I previously posted this in the wrong olive topic, it should be here*

Ok, I jarred some olives per ChefCrash's recommendation above, and I've noticed that there is pressure building up in the jars. It actually blew the seal one a mason jar-is this normal, and what is it from? I opened the jar to release the pressure and the capped it w/ a new lid-was this ok? I am doing a three jar test run here, while I still have access to them at the market.

Thanks,

Jeff

Edited by jvalentino (log)
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For how long were the olives in the jar before the top blew? I would be careful, if I were you. I don't think I would eat them. I have no idea how you cured or preserved your olives, but olives that are cured and not brined in any way should be eaten very soon after bottling. My FIL cures delicious olives and does not salt them; no one in the family keeps them beyond a week or ten days.

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*I previously posted this in the wrong olive topic, it should be here*

Ok, I jarred some olives per ChefCrash's recommendation above, and I've noticed that there is pressure building up in the jars. It actually blew the seal one a mason jar-is this normal, and what is it from? I opened the jar to release the pressure and the capped it w/ a new lid-was this ok? I am doing a three jar test run here, while I still have access to them at the market.

Thanks,

Jeff

Hi Jeff

Don't freak out :smile: Your olives are undergoing a fermentation process. Your jars should not be sealed. Loosen the covers so gasses (CO2) can escape.

Would love to see some photos.

We'll be making some this weekend, and I'll post here.

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Hi Jeff

Don't freak out :smile: Your olives are undergoing a fermentation process. Your jars should not be sealed. Loosen the covers so gasses (CO2) can escape.

Would love to see some photos.

We'll be making some this weekend, and I'll post here.

Thanks ChefCrash-I was concerned!

I'll get photo's soon.

Jeff

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