I am an olive lover.
A chef I once worked for joked that I wanted to put olives in everything. It is true I had to resist the urge – at least in the restaurant.
This week I was lucky enough to have been invited to harvest the ripe black olives from a friend's tree here in Arizona. I have always wanted my own olive tree and it turns out that the soil and climate in Southern Arizona is great for them.
It didn't take long for me and my husband with a ladder and a rake to gather the ripe black fruit from the tree, dodging giant grasshoppers hopping among the branches. Our friend said she would sometimes see deer rearing up on their hind legs to eat the low hanging fruit, but there was plenty left for us.
I have cured olives once before, using some unripe green ones I found in an Italian market. Since it has been a while, I watched a dozen YouTube videos and read some blogs to find the techniques that would yield both brined and my favorite salt cured style of olives. What I learned was there are quite a few different ways to go about curing olives – some people use only water changed daily for weeks, some use a salt brine, some use a salt brine with vinegar, some do a lactic acid fermentation and some bury them in salt.
I divided my olives into three batches – one is getting a salt brine cure; one is getting just the salt treatment, and a third is a small batch of tiny olives that I separated out and am also bringing with salt water. I will refresh the cures every week or so and am expecting this process to take 3-4 weeks.
After they cure I will dress the salt cured ones with good olive oil and thyme from my courtyard and a bit of those tiny chiltepin local chilies.
Stay tuned for the results and in the meantime check out these pics!
Please share if you have any tips or tricks for curing olives.
If you want to see some olive twig jewelry, click here.
washing the olives
Me and the desert olive tree
Brining tiny black olives
salt curing black olives
I thought this one was cute
Big batch of brined black olives