We own a 30+ year old olive tree. We're very fortunate. There was talk last year of chopping it down to make way for the biggest shed any man could have on a suburban block.. I was not happy, but resigned to the tree's fate, but not so others... and now Mark himself seems to have rekindled an affection for this fabulous tree. This year, thanks to the rain, we have a good (ish) crop of olives. I have harvested a small bucket of green olives, an even smaller amount of black-ish olives, and will do a final batch of whatever is left this weekend.
I have preserved my olives once before, with very limited success. I was travelling, regularly, between Alice Springs and Yuendumu, and carrying my buckets of olives with me, due to the need to change the water every day. At the point when I needed to put them in brine, I was in Yuendumu, and so they stayed out there.... quite happily, until my fastidiously clean sister Paula visited and noticed a layer of horrid scum on the top and turfed them... I managed to save one bucket, and I recall that it was good. I have since read that the scum is OK... just take it off. Of course!
Friends in Castlemaine have given me instructions on preserving the green olives, but I have been little dubious at the 3-4 days only required to change the water, and after consulting one of my favourite books: Ferment and Human Nutrition by Bill Mollison, and tasting the olives every few days, I did 16 days. They are now sitting in a brine of 1:10 ratio (salt to water), and the water will be changed every week for 4 weeks, at which point I will seal them in jars or put them in olive oil. (Bill keeps them in brine for only one week, so at this point, I depart from his advice.).
Apparently black olives take less soaking time than green olives. The soaking is to get rid of that really yukky taste... apparently called glucosides.
A couple of things I've discovered:
- Bought olives are not split or cut because the preserving process uses caustic soda!
- Don't preserve bruised or damaged fruits..
- Also try salted olives.. apparently they're great.
Best recipe with olives is one of mine:Baked gnocchi, and replace the eggplant with black olives.. sometimes I prefer the olives to the eggplant.