Olive Curing Experiment, part I

by Alissa

When Ace sent me a photo of the car he found for us–which is a nice enough car even though it’s not the Jetta– I have to admit I was more excited by the olive tree I saw in the background than by the car. Within a couple of hours, I found this document on olives from the UC Davis Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and started my Internet education on olive curing. It quickly landed on the top of my list of things to do in Australia.

I decided to try water curing first, in part because it is the quickest path to eating the goods, other than using lye, which seems a little extreme for a free backyard project.

Water curing consists of:

  • making slits in the olives to help release the oleuropein (the thing that makes olives straight from the tree so startlingly bitter) from the flesh of the fruit
  • covering the olives with successive daily baths of fresh water for 8-10 days
  • curing in a salt/vinegar brine for at least a month

Come back in six weeks to find out if the first batch is worth repeating.

Late-afternoon harvest. We picked everything in easy reach in about 8 minutes. Faintly, in the background, the Novocastrians were cheering for some kind of football.

Ace, who wandered the town with me looking for suitable jars, and then risked life and limb and spiders to pick olives.

Part of our harvest–see that white goo oozing out the stem ends of the olives? Don’t put that in your mouth.

The first of many baths. Once the water bath stage is finished, we will decide how to season our three large jars of fruit. Tasting party in mid-October!

It is really good for me to have something on the calendar for six weeks from now.