How to Cure Olives for the Holidays

I am participating in a waste-free holiday series! Today I will show you the exact steps to home-cure your very own holiday olives. I go over the exact steps to creating a perfect brine, including how to get the ratio of water to salt EXACTLY right for safe curing, the EASY way!

Impress your guests, family and friends and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time: a Win-Win! One of my favorite ways to reduce waste during this winter season is to make thoughtful gifts from my own kitchen and garden. Here are 3 ways that making your own gifts can reduce waste and thus, your ecological footprint:

 

  1. Reduction of Carbon Emissions: I don't spend my time driving all over the place looking for trinkets. Also, I reduce the time that delivery vehicles need to come to my house to deliver online purchases. 

  2. Avoid Single-Use Wrapping Paper: Think about it, if you participate in Christmas, what is one thing that is overwhelmingly HUGE at the end of the night? That garbage bin full of single-use wrapping paper! Sure, you can recycle it, but did you know that some wrapping paper isn't recyclable? Any paper with velvet details, metallic elements or embedded fabrics can mess up a whole lot of recycling time. Choose a beautiful reusable container as part of the gift instead! Here are some modern styles I found:

  • Ideal Sourcing: You know exactly what you are giving when you have grown and made your own products. For example, I know that I have supported bee eco-culture by avoiding pesticide use in my garden. And I know that there will be no weird by-products, plastics, or noxious chemicals liable to make a person ill or poison our rivers, lakes and streams. 

 

I have confidence that I am am minimizing my carbon footprint because of these reasons.  In past years we have made curated breakfast baskets (bread mix, honey butter, locally-sourced coffee beans, crafted simple syrups, etc,) . Other gifts have included DIY smoked jerky, beer-soaked caramel corn w/ DIY homebrew, oatmeal exfoliating bars and many others. This season, I wanted to try my hand at making gourmet olives at home. These can be used not only for gifts to olive-lovers, but also hostess presents, or a grand addition to a dinner party cheese plate. And the good news is after scouring a TON of sources,  I have found the most NO FUSS recipe for curing olives. There's no need for this stuff to be extremely difficult! 

 

 

I have waited 3 years for my first round of olives from potted tree in the front yard. It a perfect time to start olives curing for the holidays. If you don't have your own olive tree, look for fresh olives at your local market during the autumn season. In California, olive trees are pretty abundant. I have had luck posting requests to harvest local trees on Freecycle and Craigslist. People are usually happy to have someone pull off all the olives that just end up in the driveway. 

 

Here are the four easy steps to home-curing olives the EASY way: 

 

  1. Timely Harvest

  2. Daily Water Rinse 

  3. Pack in Salty Brine 

  4. New Brine for Longterm Shelf-Life 

 

Timely Harvest

 

Did you know that there is no "green" or "black" olive tree? The color is actually an indicator or ripeness. Typically, olives range in color from light green all the way to black, with purple and red and mixed green in between. You can harvest and sort by color. This will dictate how long you let the next few steps take. All raw olives are bitter, bitter, BITTER. The greener the olive, the more bitter it is, and the longer it will take to coax that bitterness away through water and salt-brining. 

 

Daily Water Rinse

 

Removing bitterness is where water-rinsing comes in. For this harvest, I only chose green olives. I rinsed them in fresh water each day for 7 days until they started to turn brownish-green and get a little soft. (It's ok if you skip a day) 

 

Pack in Salty Brine

 

I made a little salt brine with tap water and coarse sea salt. You want pure sea salt, not kosher or table salt. Jacobsen Salt Co. is a west coast American brand, harvested from the Pacific Ocean: 

 

 

 

 

Brine is best made by weight, not strict volume measures like cups or liters, so you will need a kitchen scale. Here's the one I use: 

 

 

 

I added some fun spices to make it a little more customized including fresh rosemary, whole fresno pepper, bay leaf and garlic clove.  You can add al kinds of select aromatics, go ahead and experiment! Here is a list of ideas: 

 

 

 

 

 

Gourmet Curing Additions: 

 

Rosemary

Citrus slices

Garlic

Onion

Dill 

thyme

Peppercorn

Mustard

Fennel 

Herbs de Provence 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let this brine sit for 2-3 months. The longer you wait, the softer the olives will be. After 3 months, if you haven't eaten them already and want to keep them longer, then go to the next steps.

 

 

New Brine for Long-term Shelf Life

 

 

Water to keep longer? Re-rinse in 8% salt brine and keep for up to a year. Store in a cool, dark place.

 

 

Yes, seriously, thats it! There are unlimited ways to cure olives, this is just the most simple one I found. What do you like to make for the holidays?  

 

 

 

 

 

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