So an update on my experiment in making olives. I'm up to the curing step, which basically involves leaving olives in water and changing it regularly. The black olives are still in water. I'm meant to change the water every two days, but there's at least another 20 days to go. Meanwhile the green olives are ready to marinate now that I've been changing their water every day. The recipe I've followed is somewhere between the Movida book or the Cook's Companion for crushed green olives. I found the suggested 10 days weren't enough, so decided to leave them for few days (turned out to be an extra 5 days) and continue changing the water until the bitterness had been removed and they were ready for marinating
So how do you know they're ready?
Well they really should look like the olive in the middle with the distinct olive green colour. Taste to ensure bitterness has disappeared. I found some didn't absorb the water effectively and thus were still too bitter. On the other hand I had a few which got too mushy so I discarded those too.
So what you need is some olive oil, lemon juice, salt, garlic and herbs and spices. I used coriander and fennel seeds, 2 bay leaves and 1 sprig of fresh fennel. If you want you can add chillies but be warned the chili will permeate the brine and olives, so it's best to add it towards the end of the marinating process.
I sterilized some small salsa jars and stuffed them 3/4 full with olives, a bay leaf, lemon wedge, garlic and 1/4 tsp of fennel and coriander seeds. I poured in olive oil and 2 tbs of salt (these olive shave no salt and this liquid will turn into brine). I also added 1-2 tbs of white vinegar- I like my olives slightly sour but squeezing a lemon should also do the trick.
Once all the green olives have been bottled, leave to stand in brine for 2-3 weeks. Open a bottle to taste and check the olives are ready. If they are still slightly bitter leave for another week or two before opening. Once bottled these should keep for up to 6 months, but as I found out they don't last long enough... they were quickly consumed by the hungry folk who helped pick them.
At least there's still the black olives to go.
Next time: How to marinate black olives