The last of my pickled olives

This year’s  olives…… hardly worth it.  Larger than last year’s crop, but probably just as few.

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I think that my tree is refusing to produce many olives because it is objecting to being in a pot. It gets root bound and every year we pull it out of the pot and trim the roots – this probably traumatizes it.

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It has given me many years of pleasure and I have certainly experimented with processes for curing the olives and dressing them.


Once pickled, my olives do not keep their colour – I pick them when they are a green- violet colour but the pickling process turns them into a uniform light brown colour.

I was horrified when I read this article in The Age (Melbourne news paper):

Olives painted with copper sulphate top largest-ever Interpol-Europol list of fake food

A statement by Interpol on Wednesday said a record 10,000 tonnes and 1 million litres of hazardous fake food and drink had been recovered across 57 countries, with Australia also making the list.

Italian olives painted with copper sulphate solution, Sudanese sugar tainted with fertiliser, and hundreds of thousands of litres of bogus alcoholic drinks top Interpol’s annual tally of toxic and counterfeit food seized by police agencies across the world. The haul of bogus diet supplements, adulterated honey and ……….etc.

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I have often been asked about the colour of Sicilian Olives (those bright green ones as in photo above) and I really do not know how they are pickled and how the bright green  colour eventuates.

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My tree has given me a great deal of pleasure and I have certainly experimented with processes for curing its olives and dressing them.

There are many posts written about pickling olives and recipes using olives on my blog…. key in OLIVES in the search button. I have just tried this and there are 72 posts about olives! Here is one of them:

Various Ways to Pickle Olives

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The olive trees in Agrigento are among the oldest in Sicily. This photo was taken in the Valley of the Temples.
Oh, to be in Agrigento now!

ULIVI CUNZATE, INSALATA DI OLIVE – Sicilian Green olives/ Olive salad


I do not usually buy dressed olives – some combinations can be very salty, others taste what I refer to as “synthetic” i.e. the quality and taste of the oil could be better, the blend of spices and herbs fresher or the combination of flavours are not to my taste. I would much rather buy some good quality, plain kalamata olives and dress my own, using good quality extra virgin olive oil and spices I like.

My cousin Lidia lives in Augusta (east coast of Sicily) and she makes very good olive salads using black or green olives.I like to use her method of dressing olives using green, Sicilian olives.

What we are calling ‘Sicilan green olives’ in Australia are those very distinctive vivid, bright green coloured olives (almost unnatural in colour – this is due to the pickling process). They have a softer, creamier texture than conventional olives and are milder tasting – no bitterness or saltiness. These olives seem to have become a bit of a fad recently In Melbourne.

In Sicily, these green pickled olives are said to come from Castelvetrano in the province of Trapani.


Lidia adds giardiniera (pickled Italian vegetables in vinegar) to the olives. Ratio: 1 part giardiniera to 3 part olives.

Add finely chopped parsley, spring onion, red chilli and garlic to taste.

She also uses the inner heart of the celery – those tender light green stalks and their leaves chopped finely.

Nothing savoury is ever eaten without good quality olive oil. Dress the salad generously.

But, it is the finely cut, fresh mint that is the refreshing addition – add this last of all and present to the table.

When I make the olive salad I present it as an antipasto. It does not keep well – the mint turns dark, the salad component goes soft. (And this is why for the most part the ready bought, dressed olives taste ‘synthetic’ – picked fresh ingredients perish too quickly and are not generally used for the take-away market).

For other recipes on how to pickle and dress olives, see earlier posts labelled ‘Olives’.