We have an olive tree in our yard & last year I gave preserving olives a go. Trawled the internet & some old home style magazines for instructions on the preserving process. I hadn't realised an edible olive takes so long to create! I bottled them just before Little Imp was born and it wasn't until Christmas, 8-months later, that they tasted good enough to eat.
This year Gnarled Trunk initiated the picking and preparing of the olives for bottling and we preserved on a bigger scale after the success of last year's batch. Guess what you are all getting for Christmas peoples!
I mixed together different bits from a number of recipes to end up with a fairly environmentally friendly method (not too much salty water wasted) as follows.
- Pick enough olives to fit into container of choice. I picked them when black (mid April in Perth).
- Sterilise 3 sewing pins & poke them through a small piece of Styrofoam, then prick each olive with this contraption a few times (beats using a single pin to prick, prick, prick, prick).
- Cover olives with water & weigh down with dinner plate or similar to keep all olives submerged.
- Change water daily for 2 weeks.
- Over the 3rd week, add a few tablespoons of dissolved salt for each litre of water in the container. Continue to change this water/salt solution daily.
- The olives are likely to still taste pretty bitter at this point, but are ready to be bottled
- Make sure you have nice clean jars for bottling
- Pack olives into each jar (firmly so they don’t float up too easily when add vinegar solution)
- Make up a solution with the ration of ¾ cup warm water, 2.5 tbs salt and ¼ cup white wine vinegar, stir to dissolve as much salt as possible. (the amount of salt needed will vary dependant on how salty your water already is (a 1997 Gardening Australia magazine suggested to work this out by making a brine using enough salt to make a fresh egg just float under the water's surface).
- Pour enough of this brine & vinegar solution into each jar to cover the olives.
- Pour over a layer of olive oil to prevent the olives on the top drying out & screw lid onto jar.
- Leave the olives to soak for at least 4/5 months & then test to see if they are edible.
- To prepare for eating rinse off brine & then leave olives in fresh water in the fridge for a day or 2, changing the water every 24 hours.
- Add flavouring such as chilli, garlic, lemon, crushed coriander or fennel seeds, whatever you desire or have in the pantry & enjoy!