Posts Tagged ‘fresh olives’

We were surrounded by olive trees in Puglia. Some were newly planted — a gift to the generations to come — while others were planted 500 years ago. The oldest, now split down their centers, were planted in 1000 AD, when Puglia was ruled by the Byzantines and marauding pirates terrorized its coastal cities.

Kristin and I recently cured our own olives. The U.S. isn’t known for its olive trees, so we were pretty surprised when Kristin’s mom brought us a bag full of fresh green olives (they had been shipped from Greece). In general, fresh olives taste disgusting. They are very very acidic and their juice is white and viscous. Though some Italian nonne (grandmas) cook with fresh olives, it is pretty uncommon.

Curing them is supposed to be easy, but we totally failed. The olives taste almost as acidic as they originally did. We have some guesses as to what went wrong; I’ll include them, along with the recipe that we followed, below.

There’s no success like failure, and failure’s not success at all.—Bob Dylan

This recipe came from Barbur World Foods (a great market that has wonderful wine tastings). The fresh olives also came from there.


1) Crack the olives using a stone (we used a rolling pin)
2) Prepare salted water at a ratio of 1 quart water to 1/2 cup pickling salt.
3) Wash olives in cold water, then let them sit in a cold water bath for 2 days (change the water twice a day)
4) Put into a jar
5) Add seasonings: salted water, lemon, garlic
6) Top the jar with 3 TBSP olive oil before sealing
7) Age two weeks before eating

We suspect that we let the olives get a little old before starting the process; they sat in our refrigerator for several days. Also, some say that you should let them sit in the cold water bath for two weeks, to get all the bitterness out. We might try that next time.


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