It’s hard to describe the deep sense of satisfaction I get from making something myself, from scratch, and having it work out as well as, or better than, the version available at a shop. And when it comes to food, knowing exactly what it is that we are putting into our bodies is another definite motivation for home-making. This week my making has been all success and satisfaction. Which is really rather nice!
As I said in my last post, I have beautiful neighbours. Mary and Vic have an olive tree in their front yard, and Mary brought a bowl of olives over for me a few weeks ago.
I’ve tried pickling olives before, with mixed results, but spurred on by Mary’s encouragement (and a huge stack of paper outlining the complete ‘how to’ of the various pickling methods – see link below) I tried once again, and this time I have finally been successful in making delicious olives myself!
I chose to use the ‘Mediterranean-style cracked olive’ recipe, though I slit my olives rather than ‘cracking’ them. Here’s the process:
1. Rinse your olives. Slit them down to the pip with a sharp knife. Put them into a food grade bucket/container large enough to hold them when covered with water.
2. Cover with fresh cold water and soak. Make sure all the olives stay submerged by placing a plate over them and weighing it down. Put the lid on the bucket loosely.
3. Change the water daily for a minimum of 7 days. This removes the bitterness from the olives. The water will discolour and smell olivey and the olives will change colour. If you like your olives less bitter, continue the process for a few more days (I did mine for 11 days).
4.Drain and rinse your de-bittered olives.
5. Next is the brine: this involves salt, water and a bit of vinegar. I adapted the recipe I used to suit the amount of olives I had, figuring that if I had spare it wouldn’t matter – it’s not like salty water doesn’t keep!
So, for 5 kg/10 pounds of olives:
Dissolve 1 1/2 cups of pickling salt into 4 litres/1 gallon of water, and then add 2 cups white wine vinegar.
6.Now comes the fun bit. Get some jars and some seasoning things – I used lemon, garlic, thyme, chilli and rosemary, all from my own garden!!! The satisfaction grows! Put the olives and herbs etc. into the jars and cover with the (cool) brine.
7. Refrigerate for at least 3 days before eating – the salt mellows and permeates the olives. And then ENJOY!
The recipe says they olives will last for a year in the brine in the fridge. That’s great, but in my house they will be devoured well before that!
I gave some to Mary and Vic to try and they gave me their approval. Somehow getting the thumbs up for my olives from an Italian seems like I have passed the ultimate test.
But really, the fact that they are delicious is all I need to know.