Preserving Black Olives

Curing Olives with Salt
Its almost impossible to find shop-bought olives that taste a patch on home-cured ones but preserving green olives is a time-consuming business that often results in a flavour that's at best unremarkable and at worst bitter. This easy black olive recipe originates in Greece but works just as with French, Middle-Eastern or Spanish olives and offers endless possibilities for flavour variations.

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Ingredients for Oil Cured Olives

  • Olive oil
  • Rock Salt
  • Black (ripe) olives

Optional Ingredients for Marinated Olives

  • Lemon
  • Dried Chillies
  • Fresh or dried Thyme
  • Garlic Cloves
  • Peppercorns
  • Bay Leaves
  • Fresh or Dried Rosemary
To vary the flavours, experiment with various combinations in different jars. Chillies, garlic and lemon give the olives an unusual tang whereas garlic and thyme give a more traditional Mediterranean flavour.

How to Preserve Black Olives

  1. Loosely pack the ripe black olives in clean jars with course salt (50% salt, 50% olives).
  2. Shake the jars each day and turn them over. (The jars will need to be placed on trays when they are upside down as some water will leak out.)
  3. Repeat for 7 to 10 days or until the salt is completely wet.
  4. Rinse off the salt and leave the olives to drain for 1-2 hours.
  5. Pack the olives in canning jars with lots of olive oil and any of the optional ingredients.
  6. Store jars in a cool dark place.
  7. After one to two months open one jar and taste to see if they are ready. If not, leave a few weeks longer.
Oil-cured olives can keep for years and the flavour just keeps getting better and better although the olives do tend to get softer as they get older.

Black Olive Recipes

These olives are perfect for Mediterranean-style salads with mozzarella, tomato & fresh basil or feta cheese, tomatoes and onions. Or try them as a garnish on spaghetti 'al pomodoro' or as an ingredient in couscous. These oil cured olives are also ideal for making tasty, homemade Beer Bread, Black Olive Tapenade or Provençal Olive Paste.

The remaining oil left over as the olives are eaten is great for making tangy salad dressings or in a simple olive oil dip with bread or toast for a healthy breakfast.

Jars of olives - as well as pastes - make great economical and ecological gifts. Why not recycle an attractive preserve jar to package the olives in? Add a ribbon and a hand-written label for an authentic rustic touch.

This recipe is based on a combination of two recipes fromAll Love Olives and has been extensively tested in the kitchen of the author of this article!

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