Home Curing Olives

Home curing olives

Sevillano Tree

I have extensively documented my love of all things olive, and my experience curing fresh olives at home.  It’s a project that takes a couple months of love and dedication, but will provide you with a year of enjoyment.  (And great holiday gifts to give out).

My personal exclusive supplier of fresh olives is a California grower, Penna, who harvest and also process their own in a variety of flavors, available to the public from their website.

The fresh (uncured) olives are only available once per year, with greens coming in September, and blacks in October or November.   I only purchase Sevillano olives, part of the family of “Mission” olives, which were initially cultivated by the Spanish missions in California during the 1700s.  The Mission olives are native to California, and are thought to be an offshoot of Moroccan olives, brought originally to Mexico by Spanish explorers.

The Sevillanos  are available in several sizes of the greens, the blacks are larger, this year, some as large as small plums (see pic below).

This year I am doing black ones for the first time, since they have been on the tree longer, they are a little less bitter than raw green ones, but still need to have their bitterness leeched out of them.

Sevillano blacks are especially suited to one of the easiest cures of all, drying them in pickling salt for a month, they shrink and wrinkle and take on a nutty flavor.  Great for snacks, salads, or bread recipes.

I’m hoping to nail the art this season, as I have olive trees on my new condiment ranch, and am looking forward to curing my own.  The trees can grow quite tall, but have to be trimmed down to 12-15′ feet, as that’s about the highest height that the olives can be harvested safely by hand, with a ladder.

Home curing olives

Fresh greens


Home curing olives

Fresh blacks


Home curing olives

Olives in brine


Home curing olives

Blacks in salt cure



Home curing olives


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Home Cookin ‘ – Ball Park Brand Flame Grilled Beef Patties

I’ve tested a lot of ‘heat and eat’ burger patties at home, from the frozen varieties like Fred Meyer Frozen Mini Cheeseburgers, Private Selection Angus Beef Patties, and Trader Joes Kobe Style, White Castle,  to the convenience store types like Big A Angus Charbroil, and the 7-Eleven Cheeseburger,

With the exception of the mini mart burgers, the other patties all come frozen and uncooked.   Ball Park Flame Grilled Beef Patties are frozen and fully cooked, and only have to be heated in a microwave, on a skillet or grill.

If you’re a regular reader, you know even if a product calls gives a choice of being microwaved or some other cooking method, usually I chose to heat on a stove top; tonight was an exception, and I followed the manufacturer’s instructions for microwaving:  microwave safe plate, cover patty with a paper towel, heat 60-75 seconds.

Here’s what the patty looks like right out of the resealable pouch:

Ball Park Flame Grilled Beef Patties

And in nearly less than a minute, “plated”, this burger looks like a hand-formed, quality hamburger:

Ball Park Flame Grilled Beef Patties

I was quite surprised at both the taste and texture of this product. I liked it. I’d buy them again, and you should too.

Ball Park Beef patties come in three varieties, and are packed 6 to a bag, at my store they were $7.99.

Here’s their latest TV commercial to tell you the whole story.


Pretty standard: beef, water, salt, beef stock, flavoring, oil, starch, corn syrup and lemon juice concentrate.  That last ingredient is a puzzler!



ball park beef patties

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Home Pizza Crust – Take 3

Again, this time, I used King Arthur’s Perfect Pizza Blend Mix (see previous review).

I made it per the instructions precisely, although this time, I wanted to try and see what it worked ilke after freezing. So after a two hour initial rise, I tamped it down, put into a floured zip lock bag, and froze for two days.

I thawed it overnight in the refrigerator the day before I was going to use it, brought it up to room temperature in the bag, but did not try for another rise. Working with the dough was a dream, as before, the ability to roll it or stretch by hand was a task handled with ease.

This one was topped with ingredients already on hand, including canned Chef BoyArDee Pizza Sauce (store locator), Kraft Italian 5 Cheese (shredded bag), Gallo Dry Salami, Napoleon Sliced Green Olives (previous review here), and dried basil and garlic.

Preheated 500 degree oven on a stone with baking parchment. Ten minutes. My oven may be up to 50 degrees lower than set, so adjust your recipe accordingly.

Buy King Arthur pizza flour online

The results were fantastic. Chewy outer crust, soft in the middle. This version had some good “New York hang”  to it, that the previous freshly used dough did not, tho I am not sure why.

Salami did not char, cup, or leave pools of oil. Cheese melted well, overall flavor was above and beyond.

I’d like a dough sheeter, but this method still works well, and certainly makes a better product than I can have delivered, at least for my taste.

What’s with the “odd” shape?  Why, this is hand-made ARTISAN pizza, ya goof!  LOL

Pizza3 PNG2


Home Pizza Crust

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Private Selection Angus Beef Patties

Today’s home burger test is a Private Selection (Kroger) brand frozen Angus Burger.  1/3 pound patties, 6 to a package, retail price of 5.99 today with a Fred Meyer loyalty card.   As I spewed the other day, Fred Meyer is our local outlet of the Kroger Company, where house brands are made and/or distributed by their subsidiary Inter-American Brands.

fredmeyerburger box PNGThe box (pictured) calls the burgers “100% Angus Beef Chuck Patties.”  The ingredients panel states:  “Contains Beef,” with no other additives listed than simply that.  That’s encouraging.   There was, I think a couple of choices in the same line, one box touted “Bacon and Cheese Beef Patties,” I didn’t examine the box closely, but from the photo, it looked like the bacon and cheese was mixed into the beef patty.   That’s far too much of a commitment for me.  The new Federal regulation on country of origin labeling showed me that this is a product of USA, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, and Australia.   Note that there is no “or” in that list.

Further Federal regulations shows that this product was made at USDA registered plant 425B, and Googling that reveals that “Kenosha Beef International, through its business unit, Birchwood Foods, is one of the largest US processors of raw, frozen, and pre-cooked ground beef and pork products for the quick-service restaurant industry. Birchwood Foods’ manufacturing facilities in Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin primarily serve the midwestern US, although it distributes products to restaurant and foodservice customers throughout the nation.”

Further examination tells us that Birchwood is 75 years old, and still in family hands.   That’s usually an encouraging sign for me.  Birchwood is in the contract manufacturing business, so if you have a burger idea and a few million bucks to launch it, I am sure they would be more than happy to assist you with formulation and manufacturing.

I digress.

The instructions on the box were straightforward, place patties in a pre-heated pan and cook until juices come through, flip, and cook until “done.”   Well, that’s vague.   I generally home-fry burgers in fredmeyerburger raw PNGa cast-iron skillet, lightly oiled (EVOO), and with Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (I lived in New Orleans for five years, what can I say, our household uses Tony Chachere’s on everything (it’s really nice on cottage cheese!).   (Think of it as a jazzed-up seasoned salt).

So I cooked them as instructed, it took ten  minutes at medium heat til the “juices came through”, and then I flipped them for four minutes to keep them to a medium rare. (I failed at that part).   I didn’t weigh these before or after cooking, but they didn’t leave much in the pan, even though they suffered some diameter shrinkage.

As it was “generic” day, I loaded them onto Fred Meyer brand Sesame Buns, dressed with mustard, onion, and dill pickle, and the result was quite enjoyable.   Certainly better than any of the “Angus” fast food offerings out there.  Of course, it didn’t come with fries or a huge-ass cola, but I kept up no-name day by washing them down with “Dr. K,” Kroger’s Dr Pepper knock-off, which is good enough, at half the price.

Side dishes today?   An old episode of Perry Mason and a scratch-off ticket.   What a life I lead!  So what do you think, does it look like the picture on the box?  Yeah, me neither.

fredmeyerburger cooked PNG

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Home Pizza Dough Quest

My quest continues to make GREAT home made pizza. This week I triedkingarthur mix PNG King Arthur Brand Crust Mix, a pack makes two 12″ thin crusts, or larger single thick crust.

The mix is complete, includes a yeast package, the ingredients ( semolina flour (durum wheat), King Arthur Unbleached Flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour), dough improver (extra grade sweet cream dairy whey, highly refined soy flour, sweet cream buttermilk, hi-heat non-fat dry milk), natural flavorS, salt, leavening (monocalcium phosphate, baking soda, cornstarch), diastatic malt powder (malted barley flour, wheat flour, dextrose), inactive yeast, sour cream powder (sour cream, cultured nonfat milk, citric acid). YEAST: yeast, sorbitan monostearate, ascorbic acid) are quite complex, would be difficult to duplicate on one’s own.

The first thing I liked about this was I was able to do it completely in the mixer with a dough hook, no hand kneading was required (although you may enjoy kneading, some people do). The dough was very workable and had the right amount of stretch, and it was absolutely no problem to roll it or stretch it to the size and shapes I wanted.

It cooked up very well @ 500 for 15 minutes on a stone, tho I am still having a little problem sliding them onto the stone without some misshaping  occurring. The stones have corn meal on them (which burns @ 500), and so does the paddle, as well as being dusted with flour, but there is some trick to an easy slide which I haven’t mastered. I have better luck with using the silicone/plastic cutting mats than I do the metal pizza paddle.

I made two pies from this batch, a salami/pepperoni, green olive, mozzarella one, and an all vegetable one with peppers, onions, basils from the garden, and mushrooms.

The outer crust was perfectly crisp, the center was slightly crispy and chewy. I could have probably rolled them thinner, but then sliding them onto the stone would be a greater problem. I need a dough roller!

I also purchased a 3# bag of King Arthur Perfect Pizza Blend ($7.50 – would appear to be a better value than the mix), which I will give a shot in the near future.

Would appreciate any suggestions for the “stone slide” problem I am having!

kingarthur PNG


Home pizza dough

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