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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



Do You Have Creative Ideas for Penna Olives?


Penna Olives I’m among a lucky group of folks asked by Penna Olives to play with some products and come up with some new ideas and recipes.   One of the premier olive growers and processors in Northern California, Penna sells all types of cured and stuffed olives, along with other related products.   Direct to customers as well as wholesale.  They sell ripe olives, right off the tree, for people who want to try curing and flavoring olives at home.   It’s easy and fun, I do about 20 pounds each year and they are popular holiday gifts, and the rest keep me for an entire year.  There are lots of tips on curing on the Penna site, and I’ve documented my experiences in the past.

The various sizes of green olives are the first to be harvested each year, in September, and they go fast, so you have to start checking the fresh olive page on the Penna website in late August to be sure you don’t miss out.

In the first pack that Penna sent out to play with are four products, Dirty Martini Mix, Olivesecca (dried, pitted olives), Sicilian Spiced Pitted, and Spicy Green Beans.  I have some ideas for each of these, and Mrs. Burgerdogboy loves the Martini mix in her adult beverages of the ‘dirty’ variety – she has to hide it from me or I’d just chug it.

How about you? Have some ideas for us to try out?  Let us know, and follow the results here and on Penna’s Facebook page!







Penna Olives


Home Cured Olives, continued….


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.).



Curing Olives at Home – Day 1


Olives arrived from the nice folks at Penna.   Wonder as many times as  I have stopped in the adjacent city to them, to purchase “finished” olives, I haven’t stopped in to see the Pennas?  I’ll have to correct that next trip down I-5!

Years ago, living in Los Angeles, I had an olive tree in the back yard, and all it meant to me at the time (even tho I have loved olives since I was a sprout), was one big mess in the yard every fall.  I never even thought of trying to cure them at home until a couple years ago, had a notion, ordered 10 lbs from Penna, and away we went.  Problem?  10 lbs wasn’t nearly enough, people would have them  at our dinner parties and demand to take them home – so we gave a lot away.

I think probably 20-30 lbs is the right amount for an olive loving household.

Olives off the tree are inedible.  Very bitter.  Rumor has it, one day a fair maiden was walking along the sea, and noticed that a bunch of olives had fallen into a tide pool.  Desperately hungry, she nibbled a few – and they were delicious!

And thus (so the story goes) olive curing began.  Today, large commercial operations cure olive with a lye solution, in order to speed up the process of leaching out the bitterness, but at home, I used the old-timey way, with either a fresh water bath for a couple of weeks, or a brine solution for a month or more.

One cracks the flesh of the fruit with a hammer or knife, to expedite the bitterness exiting during the bath/brine process.

Then into the drink they go.  Penna has some curing methods online you might try.

I’ll keep you posted here, on how my process goes.  I know this – with only 2 1/2 pounds in the drink, they won’t last long at our house!

Here’s a short video of the start of the process, and some fotos follow below.


Curing Olives at Home


Cracking the flesh of the fresh olives


Time to Home Cure Olives!


The nice folks at Penna have sent a box of fresh (raw) olives, so I can write about how easy it is to cure them at home.   It is!  I’ve done this before, and you can, too!   You’ll be delighted with the results.

They sell out fast, so if you want to try curing some olives at home, order from Penna!  They will be available in a few short days, here!

Not into curing your own?  Penna has a wide variety of flavored and stuffed olives available, something to please everyone.  Order here.

Penna Olives @Great_Olives


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