Tag Archives: Process for pickling olives

PICKLING OLIVES- More About

Some of the most popular posts on my blog are about pickling olives or how to dress them once they are pickled.

And I have also had many conversations with people about how to pickle olives so it is time to reveal another pickling method that has worked for my olives for the last couple of years.

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I have to say that my olives are small in size and if your olives are larger, this pickling process may take a much longer time. What you could do, is put a split on the side of each olive – this will assist the pickling process.

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My tree is in a large pot on my balcony and I bought is from a plant nursery where it was labelled  as a Paragon olive tree – it would be called a Frantoio olive tree in Tuscany. Frantoio (Paragon) olives are small and oval in shape and they are mainly used for extracting oil. In the photo below the Paragon olives are on the left and Kalamata olives are on the right.

A ‘Frantoio’ is also the hydraulic press used to extract oil and the processing plant or factory is also called a ‘Frantoio’.

The color of an olive is an indication of its ripeness. Green olives ripen and go from green to light brown and purple, to black. If I am using brine (salt and water) I pick the olives when they begin to turn from green to violet and I go through the usual process of keeping them submerged in a bucket of water and changing the water every day before I place them into brine. Because olives do not all ripen at once I may need to pick the olives in stages and follow through to the pickling process in batches – I cannot say that it is one of my favourite occupations.

However for the last couple of years olive ripening time has coincided with travelling and not wanting to waste the olives I have collected them all at once – green, purple and black – I eliminated the process of the changing of water and all the olives went straight into pickling using water, salt, wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

And this process has worked (for the past two years). The olives are probably more bitter than previous years but I do not mind that at all. I usually leave them about 5-6 months before I eat them.

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Every two years the tree produces a large crop and I may collect about 2 kilos of olives. I pickle my olives in a crockpot which I leave on my balcony (there is no room for a crockpot inside my small apartment).

When they are ready I transfer them to jars and add fennel seeds and dry oregano to them. Notice that there is always oil on top and that the olives are submerged.

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There are various other ingredients that I add to olives when I dress them (See my other posts about olives).

2 kg olives
1 ½ litres water
5 tbsp heaped salt (I use sea salt for everything)
600 ml wine vinegar
600 ml extra virgin olive oil
Wash and drain the olives and place them in a clean glass jar; I use a crockpot.

Boil the water and add the salt – make sure that it is dissolved. The way to test if the water is salty enough is to float an egg in the water and if the egg’s surface remains above the water, there is enough salt in the water. If it sinks add more salt. Wait till it is cool.
Add the vinegar and cover the olives in the jars finishing with a good layer of olive oil to seal. Use some mesh to keep them submerged – they must be covered.
Set aside until the olives are ready.

More Posts about Pickling Olives:

PICKLING SICILIAN GREEN OLIVES using wood ash (OLIVE SOTTO CENERE)

HOW TO PICKLE OLIVES

MARINATED OLIVES, OLIVE SALADS, MORROCAN FLAVOURS

OLIVE SCHIACCIATE (Fresh Cracked Olives)

OLIVE FRITTE (Lighly fried, fresh black olives)

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HOW TO PICKLE OLIVES

Olive trees have become very common in many Australian gardens. In South Australia where I used to live, olive trees grow wild and prolifically, and I miss not being able to collect and marvel at the range of shapes, sizes and tastes of olives I had for free. I used to enjoy looking at my collection of different jars of olives, collected from different trees and in different locations. I remember once finding a tiny, round olive in Botanic Park and after some research found that it was a descendant of one particular French variety introduced in very early times of Adelaide’s history.

A friend contacted me recently and suggested that I publish something on my blog about how to pickle olives. She is ready to pick hers and had looked through her collection of recipe books and was able to find many suggestions for how to marinade olives, but not how to pickle them.

There are many ways to preserve olives in all their stages of maturity – green, black and those that are turning colour from green to violet. Because I only have one small tree growing in a pot on my balcony, it is those in-between colour olives that I collect to preserve.

Water and salt seem to be a common ways to leach out the bitterness.

I place them into a crock pot after the leaching process and cover them in brine. As you can see I place a weight on top to keep them submerged and then cover them with a sturdy lid and leave them there until they are pickled.

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Green olives can be soaked whole in salt water or be cut with a sharp knife across on one side or cracked with a brick (called olive schiacciate).

Very ripe black olives can be dried outdoors in the shade and then packed in jars in salt. My father placed black olives on rock salt in shallow trays with a layer of open weave made of plastic (available from the hardware and used to prevent leaves from getting into gutters) suspended close to the bottom of the trays. The juice of the olives dribbles down to the bottom of the tray (to collect the juice, he used to place newspaper there, discard and replace it regularly) and eventually the olives dry out and they can be packed in oil, fennel seeds and oregano.

Some people use ash, others place green olives in water with caustic soda – the soda preserves the firmness, but it is not environmentally friendly and not a process I favour. This method is a common procedure used in commercial pickling and can change the colour of the olive from green to black.

I have one small tree on my balcony and the easiest thing I can do is collect my small crop when my olives are turning colour from green to pink and preserve them in brine till I am ready to use them.

PROCESS

Submerge the olives into fresh water in a large bowl or bucket. Change the water every day for a fortnight. I place a clean plate or mesh on top to keep the olives under the surface.

The olives are now ready to be placed in jars into a strong solution of brine.

Estimate how much brine you require (salt is cheap and maybe you will waste some brine or you can measure the last lot of water you pour off the olives).

Dissolve salt in boiling water, I use about one cup of coarse rock salt to 8 cups of water. (My father used to boil the water and keep on adding salt till an egg floated on top). Allow the water to cool.

Place olives in clean jars (with good lids). I scatter some fennel seeds in between the layers and then pour the brine over them until the olives are completely submerged. Once again that gutter wire comes in handy and I cut some to size to place on top of the olives to keep them submerged. Alternatively coiled branches of dry wild fennel stalks are also effective for this purpose.

Topping up the bottles with up to one centimeter of olive oil to seal and stop air getting to the olives is not thought to be essential, I do it. Screw on the lids and store for at least 6 months in a cool place.

When you are ready eat your olives take out as many as you want, drain them and taste them. If they are too salty, soak them in fresh water, till they are ready to dress.

Unlike the Greeks, I do not use vinegar to pickle or to dress olives. Unless I am pretending to be Moroccan rather than Italian, my olives are mostly dressed very simply with extra virgin olive oil, dry oregano, bay leaves, fennel seeds and chili flakes.

******This post  was published in Mar 23, 2009 and it us still one of my most popular posts.

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BUT

Having said that ‘Unlike the Greeks, I do not use vinegar to pickle or to dress olives’, check out what I have said in a post written in Jan 11, 2015

More about pickling olives

Various Ways to Pickle Olives