I never have any doubts about the success of the olives I pickle. They always seem to work and they taste different from year to year.

This is a photo  of the jars of olives in my pantry.

There are last year’s olives (2020) and they are ready to eat having spent one year in the pickling solution.

There are two batches of this year’s olives:  those in the small jar  and red lid are from my small tree on my balcony. This year there were not many olives on my tree. The two large jars of dark coloured olives  I collected  from a wild tree on Hindmarsh Island in South Australia.

I often experiment when I preserve my olives. The standard procedure is to soak them in fresh water for 8-10 days and changing the water daily,  then placing the drained olives in a sterilised jar and covering them in brine. Making sure that the olives are submerged and topping them with a little olive oil to help prevent mould is essential.

As you can see on the red lid, this year’s olives (collected in April from my small tree on my balcony) are in a solution of extra virgin olive oil and brine drained from a jar of preserved lemons that I made earlier in the year and are ready to use. I have used some of the lemons and some of that brine has gone into the olives, together with a 1/2 tablespoon of salt, just to make sure that they do not go off.

Last year’s olives – 2020 – were only soaked in fresh water for 3 days. I was going away and the olives needed to be collected and treated so I used a greater amount of brine , ie 3/4 amount of brine and 1/4 mixture of extra virgin olive oil and vinegar. For brine =  2 tablespoons of salt in boiling water, fully dissolved and allowed to cool. On this occasion I also added some dry fennel seeds.

In the  latest pickling  I used ripe but firm olives collected in the wild on Hindmarsh Island in South Australia. I usually do not pickle ripe olives and dry them instead. These olives however were very firm and so I went through the pickling process of soaking them in fresh water for 10 days and changing the water daily . I then pickled them with roughly equal amounts of extra virgin olive oil, wine vinegar (red or white) and brine – 2 tablespoons of salt in boiling water, fully dissolved and allowed to cool. Salt is cheap so don’t skimp on brine. Add as much oil and vinegar first  and then top up with Brine.

Ensure that there is sufficient salt in the brine. Extra virgin olive oil and vinegar are also preservatives and will add flavour as well.

It is important to keep the olives submerged so those little plastic circular gadgets are very handy.  My collection are from jars of Italian preserves I have bought over the years. Depending on the size of your jar , you can add a small saucer on top, or some other sort of mesh, to keep the olives submerged underneath the brine.

I never use fresh herbs or garlic as these can cause the pickling solution to go off.

I do add  different ingredients to dress the pickled olives I am about to eat.  Any fresh herbs – thyme, rosemary, fresh bay leaves  are favourites, and /or  garlic, grated orange or lemon peel, preserved lemon and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.

As the mood takes me I also like to keep pickled olives with flavours steeped in oil to keep on the fridge. I add whole peppercorns, fennel seeds, dry oregano , chilli flakes, even whole star anise to the drained pickled olives.

Any of the above can also be added to commercially pickled olives and adding fresh good extra virgin olive oil will make a difference and your version is bound to taste better than some of the commercially dressed olives.






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!


I always know when it is picking olive season by the number of people looking at the posts on my blog about pickling olives.

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Yesterday there were 162 people looking at How To Pickle Olives, the day before there were 188; I can only assume that these readers are living in the southern parts of Australia and some maybe from New Zealand where olives are in season.

I have written about olives in a number of posts but this one seems to remain the most popular. Rather than write about olives again I will have links to other posts about olives and include a few photos of  how I am processing olives at the moment.

In the photo below the olives in the jar are from my tree on the balcony – slim pickings this year. These small olives have been placed in vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and salt.

In the colanders below are olives that my friend collected from her tree. I have separated them into green olives (unripe) and violet olives.


I  am making the green olives into cracked olives (Olive Schiacciate).


The photos explain how it is done. In this process the stone must be removed. Some suggest using a rolling pin. My father used to use a stone or a wooden mallet.  I have placed the olives on my pastry mat and then folded it over. You will need to apply quite a bit of pressure.


I usually use a meat tenderizer . On this occasion I used a rolling pin and then finished them off with a meat tenderizer – take no prisoners!


Olives can be very beautiful.

I place the cracked olives in a large jar and cover them with plastic netting to keep the olives submerged.

I will keep on changing the water for about 7 days. The water is quite cloudy and I wonder how much goodness will be left in the water.


After 7 days the olives are ready. There are not many there.



You can see that I am soaking the black olives in water. I will change the water daily for about 10 days and then place them in brine.



For  the conventional way to pickle olives, see: HOW TO PICKLE OLIVES

It is also worth reading some of the comments from readers on HOW TO PICKLE OLIVES.


It is obvious I like olives. Other posts about olives are:




CHEAT FOOD (Olive Schacciate Made with Commercially Prepared Olives)








OLIVE SCHIACCIATE (Fresh Cracked Olives)


I love olives, especially those that still taste slightly bitter.

Many Sicilian recipes also include olives as an ingredient. Whenever a recipe calls for olives I try to include good quality ones, and usually these are not the type of olives sold pickled in jars. And sold at a cheap price. In Australia we seem to have many good quality, black olives, but I often have difficulties purchasing good tasting green olives. Some olives often taste too synthetic and can spoil the taste of the dish.

I am always excited when I find good quality produce and recently I purchased some excellent crushed green olives.

As you can see in the picture, the label does not include much information. The web site listed is Sunraysia Olive Oil Company. Unfortunately this web site is not there and any attempt to find information through google will be about Mildura and environs.

Schiacciate means crushed in Italian. Crushing the olives allows greater penetration of the brine and the olives will be ready to eat in a shorter time. These green kalamata olives that I purchased called Olive King Olives have been processed like schiacciate (not that this information is included on the label), are 100% Australian grown and owned.  The olives are indeed grown and processed in Mildura: they have an excellent texture, are totally free of chemicals and taste amazing. Certainly as good, if not better than the few olives my father used to pickle in this way.

When my father was alive and when my children were very young, my dad used to get them both to help him hit the green olives gently with a brick (or meat mallet or a hammer) without crushing them completely – this was tricky.

Once the olives have been crushed, the olive stones can also be removed – this will hasten the pickling process even more so. The olives need to be placed in salted water for about 10 days (that water needs to be changed twice a day). This process will remove most of the bitterness from the olives; they will still taste slightly bitter, but this is one of their appealing qualities. The olives are then either ready to eat. They need to be drained and dressed with salt, garlic, crushed fennel seeds (or some wild fennel leaves), oregano, olive oil , fresh chilli and a dash of vinegar (optional).  If you wish to keep them for longer, place the olives in clean jars, cover with oil and keep them refrigerated. My father never made sufficient quantities to do this.

I rang the phone numbers included on the label to congratulate them. At this stage it is just a small family business. I wish them well.

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