Its not long now before the Olive Season will be upon us again. So in order to get you ready below is a process of how to pickle olives and eat the best olives you will ever taste.
There are many different ways to prepare olives and the following old Sicilian recipe is one of the simplest.
Commercial pickling process generally uses caustic soda, food acids and salt. The old fashion recipe uses salt only.
Olives can be pickled green or black. A black olive is simply a ripe olive and is known as a Kalamata olives.
When some of the olives begin to change to black, it will be fairly safe to pick the green olives for pickling. With Kalamata, all olives have to be black.
How to pick the olives
If the tree is large, place cloth sheets on the ground and strip the fruit from the tree with your hands or with a rake. Collect the fruit from the sheet; remove all stems and leaves and rinse olives in clean water in a bucket.
Pickling the olives
Toss immediately into a bucket of clean water in which ½ cup of coarse or cooking salt has been dissolved into every 10 (ten) cups of water. A clean plate can be placed on top of the olives to keep them submerged. All olives must be under the liquid. Pour the liquid away each day and replace with fresh salt water. (I have occasionally stretched this to every second day) repeat this washing process for about 20 days for green olives and about 14 days for black olives. The best test is to bite the olive, when bitterness has nearly gone the olives are ready for the final salting.
Pour off and measure the last lot of water so that you will know the volume of salt brine that will be required. Measure the quantity of fresh warm water into a pan and dissolve the salt, this time at the rate of 1 (one) cup of salt to 10 (ten) cups of water. Bring the salt water preserving mixture to the boil and allow to cool. Place olives in bottles and then pour the salt water brine over them until the fruit is completely submerged. Top up bottles with 1 centimetre of olive oil to stop air getting to the fruit and seal the lids. No further preparation is required and the bottled olives will store for up to at least 12 (twelve) months in a cool cupboard.
The olives are ready to eat straight from the brine mixture. For extra flavour, take out the olives as required and put them in a clean jar, add any of the following: garlic, basil, oregano, thyme or chilli and pour over the olive oil (I find this herb preserves well in the oil) and I top up as needed with olives from the brine mixture. This oil mix keeps well for up to a year and I occasionally add extra garlic if required.
Sit back and enjoy the unique flavour of your own pickled olives. You will probably never want to buy chemically enhanced commercial olives again.