What of poor 'Ollie's' fate ... ?
Last weekend we picked olives from our tree which is finally bearing fruit. There weren't enough, but we went to a secret place to collect more olives- heavy with ripe fruit that would otherwise go to waste, left unpicked or being eaten by birds. We were lucky in our expedition and collected half a bucket full which equated to about 3 kilos. The olives from our tree are ligurian - small elongated black olives, similar to kalamata. The other olives are gaeta/gyeta which are also small Italian black olives that can be dry, salt cured or brine cured to give them a shiny purple colour.
So, now I've decided to undertake the task of trying to cure and marinate olives for the first time and to do so I've consulted some of the experts on how to best prepare them.
There's so much information on the web, it's overwhelming. I started off the old fashioned route and asked my mum and her friends-they all have their own way of making olives. Mum's made them a few times and while I like the taste, they can be quite sharp to the palette due to the acidity in the brine. Her friend's recommend salting them, or keeping them in a brine but the ratio of salt to water and subsequent spice/herb infusion is the key.
I then researched my cookbooks and while Maggie Beer's Maggie's Harvest has pretty pictures, I didn't find it especially helpful with instructions. Frank Camorra's and Richard Cornish's MoVida book had a good recipe for marinated green olives, which was identical to Stephanie Alexander's cracked green olives in Cook's Companion. There was another recipe for black olives which requires a long curing period 40 days compared to 10 days, changing the water daily, so I decided to split my batch into 3 groups and experiment.