Somehow in my mind curing olives always seemed like an impossible and laborious task. How could something so delicious be easy to make? Here is our take on how to cure olives. On recent trips out and about the cape winelands we have gotten into the mischievous habit of olive thieving. (Side note: we only pick from lone trees and the olives are already dropping. Please don’t thieve from hardworking farmers!)
It was my birthday and I woke up early in the Breede river valley on a weekend getaway, the sun just peaking over the mountains. A little weary from the previous nights festivities I woke the rest of the house (and dogs) and we set off on an olive picking mission.
Finding the right tree is a little difficult in the beginning. But we found a few trees with plump, black ripe olives and started picking. Have a little patience here. It can take longer than expected. We picked about 1 kg of olives.
There are many ways to cure olives, but we use this traditional and simple method.
Once back home these steps take place.
- Wash the olives in a colander to remove any dust or dirt.
- With a sharp knife slice a slit down the side of each olive.
- In a container, soak the olives in brine (1 part salt to 10 parts water). Make sure the olives are submerged and cover. It is normal for grime and impurities to float to the top of the brine. Cure the olives for 3 weeks. Shaking them each day and changing the brine each week, then have a taste to see if they are still bitter. If so let them stand for a little longer. They could take up to 5-6 weeks depending on the olive.
- When they taste the way you want, sterilize some jars and add fresh brine and a couple spoons of red wine vinegar. Here you can also get creative and add cloves of garlic and sprigs of thyme or rosemary.
- Finish off by pouring a thick layer of olive oil over the top of each jar and seal the lid.
- Leave bottled for a few weeks before eating, so all the flavours can infuse. You should be able to leave for up to 6 months.
Now that is a birthday present that keeps on giving.