There are as many ways to prepare olives for consumption as there are olives (well not quite, but you get the idea). The way that i will focus on today is a traditional Greek/Italian style of olive preparation. Try it out it beats commercial pickling processes that involve the use of caustic soda and food acids for preparation.
This recipe comes from Jim Masotto, a WA realtor who runs courses in olive pickling in WA
Toss immediately into a bucket of clean water in which ½ cup of coarse or cooking salt has been dissolved into every 10 (ten) cups of water. A clean plate can be placed on top of the olives to keep them submerged. All olives must be under the liquid. Pour the liquid away each day and replace with fresh salt water. (this may possibly be stretched to every second day). Repeat this washing process for about 20 days for green olives and about 14 days for black olives. The best test is to bite the olive. When bitterness has nearly gone the olives are ready for final salting.
Pour off and measure the last lot of water so that you will know the volume of salt brine that will be required. Measure the quantity of fresh warm water into a pan and dissolve the salt, this time the rate of 1 (one) cup of salt to 10 (ten) cups of water. Bring the salt water preserving the mixture to the boil and allow to cool. Place olives in bottles and then pour the salt-water brine over them until the fruit is completely submerged. Top up bottles with 1 centimetre of olive oil to stop air getting to the fruit and seal the lids. No further preparation is required and the bottled olives with store for up to at least 12 (twelve) months in a cool cupboard.
The olives are ready to eat straight from the brine mixture. For extra flavour, take out the olives as required and put them in a clean jar. Add any of the following: garlic, basil, oregano, thyme or chilli and pour over the olive oil. More garlic? Garlic is good. Top as needed with olives from the brine mixture. This oil keeps well for up to a year.
Sit back and enjoy the unique flavour or your own pickled olives. You will probably never want to buy chemically enhanced commercial olives again.
Key tips for great olive pickling results
· the best way to harvest the olives is by hand to avoid damaging the olive
· do not gather olives from the ground as bruised olives have an off flavour
· undertake all operations under clean and hygienic conditions
· do not process olives of different varieties and different ripeness levels in the same container/tank
· use potable water for all steps. If rainwater is used it should be sanitised
· use food grade ingredients – salt, herbs and spices
· keep the airspace above the olives and brine to a minimum to prevent growth of oxygen requiring surface moulds
Note: Green olives exposed to air turn brown