Wednesday, August 4, 2010


For the past few years we've been bringing a little bit of the Italian livelihood into our home, by making a regular thing of picking and preserving our olives.
When they start dropping from the tree and the birds begin picking at them, we know it's time to get the ladder and some buckets and get down to business.

I'm not sure of the variety we have (they certainly aren't fat Kalamata size but they are definitely tasty.) It took about 5 years for the trees to fruit enough before we payed them any attention.
We tend not to pick the ones that haven't ripened into a deep aubergine purple for fear of them being too bitter. But it says here that you can pick the green ones too.
The fattest ones are (as one would expect) always on the most northern side of the tree.
Friends of ours also have a big olive tree at the back of their lovely villa cafe. So, like the good gleaners we are, we collected a few from theirs to add the the mix.
Baskets seem to make gleaning and foraging that much prettier don't you think?

To brine your own olives...
Soak them in tap water for four days, changing the water every day.
To get the brine just right, place an egg in a bucket of water and slowly add salt until the egg floats to the surface (about 150 gms per litre). Place the olives and brine in a jar and preserve for three months. Rinse before serving.
I also like to add some garlic cloves and a few olive leaves into the jars before preserving... for a bit of decoration.

...don't however, do what I did one year and put them in agee jars using rusted screw bands. The brine will make the seals rust onto the screw bands and no amount of effort will prize them apart...doh. Ordinary recycled jars will work fine. I have had mine in the pantry for a year or more and they are still perfectly edible. Keep them refrigerated once opened.
I cannot emphasize enough how easy and worthwhile it is to try this yourself.
We are still eating our way through last years lot (below) although dreams of escaping to Tuscany are far from being put to rest!
Now... if I could just get together another dozen or so jars...all donations will rewarded with olives!