I’m not sure when my fascination with olives started, though it was certainly rooted in childhood – growing up, if olives were on the table, it meant it was a holiday – Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving. Those were the only dates we’d see olives at our house.
If a holiday fete was hosted at a relatives? No problem, olives were there too. I had one aunt who talked about finding pits behind the couch for months after our visit.
Later in life, as I lived and traveled the world, I came to appreciate olives as a quick snack food, whether at a farmer’s market in Switzerland, or in a quick take-out bag in Turkey. These days, olives are everywhere, in our culture, cuisine, stores.
Once the bitterness is leeched out of the fruit, they take easily to flavoring, whether you are curing at home, or purchase one or more of the endless varieties from a grower/processor like Penna of Orland, CA. Maybe you like them with pimento, or stuffed with garlic? Nuts or blue cheese? Italian style or a hint of citrus? Olive purveyors these days can please any taste buds.
I’m in the “boring stage” of the home cure – the bitterness leeching process which can take from 10-40 days, depending on your own taste buds. This is the process where each day we dump the water the olives are sitting in, and replace it with fresh water. This is for the plain water cure. With a brine method, I change the water weekly.
After a suitable amount of time (tasting one weekly will tell you when it’s time), then the flavoring and canning can start. You can hot pack them like any canned vegetable, or cold pack them and simply keep them in the frig. I usually make a variety of flavors, ranging from “Italian Herb” to “Mexican”, and I have even made curry olives.
Curing olives at home is fun, easy, and the initial stage (cracking the olives with a mallet) can be a great activity to share with your children, as well!
(Ed. note – This sponsorship is brought to you by Penna Gourmet Foods who we have partnered with for this promotion.).