This is the third entry in the series about curing fresh olives at home. Through a program by The Foodie Blogroll and Penna Gourmet Foods, I was selected to receive a free five pound box of olives for home curing. Penna was looking for bloggers who were into preservation, canning, etc. and since that sort of thing is right up my alley, I was happy and honored to participate.
You can read about my first experience curing olives a few years ago. It didn’t go very well. But it did set me up with a lot of knowledge for this time around, which was very helpful. One of the main issues with my first batch was that the olives were mushy. So instead of pounding or cracking them to release the bitterness, I sliced them. The results are much firmer and crunchy olives. The second major issue I had the first time was with the olives remaining bitter even after soaking them in water for almost 2 months. Most olive curing recipes tell you to soak in water for 2-4 week max, but even after 2 months the olives were still inedibly bitter. I fear that extra soaking time didn’t help in the soggy olive department either.
To start this off right, I must say that the olives I received from Penna were absolutely gorgeous. Bright green and gigantic! There were only a few that had bruises or imperfections that I discarded right away. So I have to say the quality of these olives were fabulous. So a day or two after the olives arrived I began preparing them for curing.
This time I decided to follow the instructions from Penna that they have on their website for Mediterranean Partida Style, which looked similar to the recipe I tried the first time. But alas after almost two weeks of soaking them in water and changing out the water each day, when I tasted the olives they were still very bitter.
I have to say, I love my facebook readers. They are always an invaluable source of information and help when I need it. So I put a call out to my readers asking them if any had ever cured olives before and I got some very helpful advice from Maha from Maha’s Fine Egyptian Cuisine . She rescued me and this batch of olives by telling me how they cure olives in Egypt. Since I had already soaked the olives in plain water for 10 days, I decided to just follow her directions from there. But if you are just starting with your fresh olives, you can skip soaking them in plain water, and just start at step 1:
Always rinse the olives in fresh water prior to preparing and discard any olives that are terribly bruised or have any holes.
1) Make a couple of cuts with the knife on each olive and then soak the olives in salted water : use ½ cup salt to each liter of water, for one week covered on the counter.
2) Then take the olives out of the salted water and put it in jars with alternating layers of the following mix: chopped garlic cloves, diced Chinese celery, hot green peppers sliced (jalapeño will be good here) & slices of carrots.
3) After filling jars with the layers of the previous mix and layers of olives, prepare the following liquid to fill the jars with: 1 cup salt+2 cups lemon or lime juice+3 cups water (all mixed together) I use the lemon or lime shells that I used for lemon juice to cover the top of the jars and press very hard then I fill the jars with the above liquid of lemon juice, water and salt.
4) Leave some room in the jars to cover with some olive oil on the top because the oil will keep everything from rotting. Also don’t be shy on the salt because the salt will preserve everything and will not let it be mushy. Cover with a plastic wrap then cover tightly with the lid of the jar. Leave on the counter for 2 weeks and then you can eat the best pickled olives in your life.
These olives are very delicious and fresh tasting. I did mostly layers of hot pepper and carrots. I am not a fan of celery, so I omitted that. Would I cure olives myself again? It is really fun to cure olives at home, but I am not sure that I am the best olive maker but if I do it again in the future, I am definitely going Egyptian!