Preserving olives is an ancient process that turns a naturally bitter fruit into a salty, sour and delicious snack. Choose the best preservation method for the type of olive you have. Preserving with water, salt, drying, and lye, each produces a different taste and texture. Preserving olives takes time, but by doing it yourself you can make olives that are exactly to your taste.
Method 1 of 4: Preserving Olives in Water
Step 1. Get fresh green olives
Preservation with water removes oleuropein, the component in olives that gives olives their sharp and bitter taste. Green olives are actually unripe (just as green tomatoes are unripe tomatoes) and are usually quite soft, so using water alone is sufficient to preserve them.
Green olives left on the tree will fully ripen and turn purple or black. After cooking, there will not be enough water to get rid of the bitter taste; You need to choose a different preservation method
Step 2. Check the olives
Make sure nothing is damaged, look for holes caused by insects or birds.. if the olives are chemically treated, rinse before you start the salting process.
Step 3. Crack the olive, in order for the water to get into the olive, you need to crack or slice the olive so that the water can enter
You can do this with a wooden mallet or more commonly a rolling pin. Gently beat the olives, keeping them as whole as possible. Try to tear the skin, but not to crush the fruit or cut into fruit flakes. You must also be careful not to damage the seeds.
If you are concerned about the appearance of the olives, you can slice them with a knife. Use a sharp knife and make three incisions in the olive skin to allow the water to enter
Step 4. Put the olives in a plastic container and put cold water in the container
Use food-safe plastic containers with lids. Soak all of the olives in water, making sure none of them are left untouched by the water. You may need to give the olives a weight so they don't float to the surface of the water. Just put the lid on the container loose and place the container in a cool, dark place.
Make sure you're using a food-safe container that won't leak chemicals into the brine. Glass containers work well too, but you have to make sure you don't expose them to the sun
Step 5. Change the water
At least once a day, replace the water with cold fresh water. Make sure you don't forget, otherwise bacteria can thrive in the water and damage the olives. To change the water, drain through a colander, wash the container, put the olives back in and fill them again with cold water.
Step 6. Continue the process for about a week
After a week of changing the water every day, try the olives to see if they are as bitter as you want them to be. When it's done, the olives are ready; if you want the olives to be less bitter, wait a few more days (change the water daily) before continuing the process.
Step 7. Make the brine
This is the solution for storing olives. It is a mixture of preservative salt, water and vinegar that will preserve the olives and give them a delicious pickle taste. To make the brine, mix the following ingredients (enough for 4.5 kg of olives:
- 3.8 liters of cold water
- 1 1/2 cups pickling salt
- 2 cups white vinegar
Step 8. Drain the olives and put them in a storage container
Use a glass jar with a lid or a storage container of your choice. Wash and dry the container thoroughly before adding the olives. Leave 2.5 cm of space at the top of the container.
Step 9. Soak olives in salt water
Pour the brine into the jar until it completely covers the olives. Put the lid on the container and store the olives in the refrigerator.
- You can add lemon zest, rosemary sprigs, roasted garlic, or black pepper to taste the brine if desired.
- Olives can be stored in brine for up to a year in the refrigerator.
Method 2 of 4: Preserving Olives in Brine
Step 1. Get fresh olives
Green and black olives can be cured in brine, a solution of salt and water can preserve olives and give them a rich taste. This method takes longer than salting with water, but is the best method for ripe olives. Manzanillo, mission, and kalamata olives are generally preserved in brine.
- Check the olives. Make sure nothing is damaged, look for holes caused by insects or birds.. if the olives are chemically treated, rinse before you start the salting process.
- You can sort olives by size. A bunch of olives will hold evenly if they are all the same size.
Step 2. Slice the olive skin
In order for the brine to get into the olives, you will need to slice the skin of the olives to allow the solution to penetrate. Make vertical slices into the olives using a sharp knife; make sure you don't cut the seeds.
Step 3. Put the olives in a glass jar with a lid
Olives need to be stored in an airtight sealable container, and glass is best for that. Place the olives in the jar, leaving 2.5 cm of space at the top of the jar.
Step 4. Soak olives in medium salt water
Mix 3/4 cup pickling salt with 3.8 liters of cold water. Pour the brine into the jar until it completely covers the olives. Seal the olives and store in a cool, dark place, such as a kitchen or cellar.
Step 5. Wait one week
During this time, the olives will begin to sour. Leave the jar undisturbed to allow the salt and water to soak into the olives.
Step 6. Drain the olives
After a week, drain the olives and discard the medium brine, which will taste bitter. Store the olives in a glass jar.
Step 7. Soak olives in thick salt water
Mix 1 cups of pickling salt with 3.8 liters of water. Pour in the thick brine until all the olives are submerged. Seal the jar.
Step 8. Store olives for two months
Store in a cool place away from sunlight. At the end of two months, taste the olives to determine if the bitterness is to your liking. If not, replace the brine again and store the olives for a month or two. This process can be repeated until you are satisfied with the taste of the olives.
Method 3 of 4: Preserving Olives by Drying Them
Step 1. Get the ripe olives
Oily black olives can be preserved by drying with salt. Manzanillo, mission, and kalamata olives are usually preserved this way. Make sure the olives are perfectly ripe and dark in color. Check the olives. Make sure nothing is damaged, look for holes caused by insects or birds..
Step 2. Wash the olives
If the olives are chemically treated, rinse them before you start the salting process. Place it outside to dry completely.
Step 3. Weigh the olives
Use a cake scale to measure the exact weight of the olives. You need half a pound of pickling salt (1 1/2 cups) for every pound of olives.
Step 4. Prepare the crate for pickling
You can use a wooden fruit crate about 15 cm deep with two pieces of wood on each side. Cover the entire crate with sackcloth, including the sides, and secure it to the top with a stapler or nails. Prepare the second crate just like the first.
You can also line the crate with cheesecloth, scrap cloth or napkins as long as the cloth is sufficient to keep the salt in and absorb any liquid that drips from the crate
Step 5. Mix olives with salt
Mix 1 cups of preservative or Kosher salt for every pound of olives, in a large bowl. Stir until smooth, making sure each olive is covered in salt.
- Do not use iodized table salt; this will affect the taste of the olives. You can use pickling salt or Kosher salt.
- Don't skimp on salt, as it will prevent mold from growing.
Step 6. Pour the mixture into the fruit crate
Pour all the olives and salt into a crate, then coat again with a layer of pickling salt. Cover the crate with cheesecloth to keep insects from getting into the mix.
Step 7. Place it in a covered outdoor area
Maybe and could spread a tarp, because the juices from the olives would drip out and stain the surface. It is better to lay the crate on a pedestal than directly on the ground, this will promote air circulation.
Step 8. Stir in the olives after one week
Remove the contents of the crate into a clean second crate. Shake the crate to stir in the olives, then carefully return them to the first crate. This ensures that each olive gets an even layer of salt and you can see if any olives are damaged or rotten. Remove any damaged olives, as they will not be edible.
- Any olives with white circular spots (possibly mildew) should be removed. The fungus often begins to grow at the tip of the olive stalk.
- Check the olives to make sure they are starting to dry evenly. If one olive has shriveled, dense areas, you may want to moisten the olive after shaking the salt; this will encourage the congested area to begin to shrink.
Step 9. Repeat every week for a month
After this, try the olive flavor to make sure you like the taste. If the olives are still slightly bitter, continue the curing process by drying for a few weeks. Olives only take about six weeks to dry. When dry, olives are shriveled and soft.
Step 10. Strain the mixture
Remove the salt by pouring the olives over a colander, or take the olives out of the salt and beat one at a time.
Step 11. Dry the olives overnight
Spread it on a paper towel or cloth to dry completely.
Step 12. Save the olives
Mix in half a pound of salt for every five pounds to help preserve the olives in storage, then pour into a glass jar and seal. Store in the refrigerator for a few months or more.
You can also mix olives with a squeeze of extra-virgin olive oil and seasonings to taste
Method 4 of 4: Preserving Olives with Alkaline Solution
Step 1. Be extra careful when working with alkaline solutions
Alkaline solutions can burn. Wear chemical-resistant gloves and protective goggles when working with lye, and don't use an olive tank made of plastic or anything made of metal (not even a jar cover, as lye dissolves metal).
- Do not use the lye method of preservation if children may come near the olive or the lye solution.
- Work in a well-ventilated area. Open the window and turn on the fan to increase airflow.
Step 2. Clean the olives
This method is suitable for large olives such as Seville olives. Might work for green olives or ripe olives. Remove any scuffed or damaged olives, and sort olives by size if desired.
Step 3. Place the olives in an lye-resistant container
Again, don't use metal containers; glass or ceramic containers are the best choices.
Step 4. Make an alkaline solution
Pour 3.8 liters of water into an alkali-resistant container. Add 56 grams of lye solution to the water. The solution will heat up immediately. Let it cool to a serious 18-21 degrees before putting in the olives.
- Always put lye solution in water; never put water in alkaline solution. It could cause an explosive reaction.
- Use the exact size. Using too much lye will damage the olives; too little, the olives will not preserve properly.
Step 5. Pour the lye solution over the olives
Soak the olives in the lye solution. Use a plate to weight the olives down so they are not exposed to air, which can cause them to darken. Cover the container with cheesecloth.
Step 6. Stir the olive mixture and lye every two hours until the lye reaches the seeds
For the first eight hours, just stir and cover again after stirring. After eight hours, start checking the olives to see if the lye has penetrated the seeds. Wearing chemical resistant gloves, pick some of the largest olives. If the olives are easy to cut to the core, with soft, yellowish-green flesh, the olives are ready. If the olive flesh is still pale in the middle, soak it again, and try again in a few hours.
Make sure you never touch olives with your direct hands. If you don't have chemical resistant gloves, use a spoon to scoop out the olives and wash them in cold water for a few minutes before checking the penetration of the lye solution
Step 7. Change the lye solution if necessary
If the olives are still very green, the lye may not reach the seeds after 12 hours. In this case, drain the olives and soak them in a fresh lye solution. After another 12 hours, change again if the lye has not reached the seeds.
Step 8. Soak olives in water for two days
Change the water at least twice a day. This process washes the olives and gives time for the lye to escape. Each time you change the water, the water will get lighter in color.
Step 9. Try the olive flavor on day four
If the taste is sweet and fatty, without a bitter or soapy taste, move on to the next step. If the taste of the lye solution persists, continue soaking and rinsing until the olive flavor is light and the rinse water is clear.
Step 10. Preserve olives in lightly salted water
Put the olives in a glass jar. Mix 6 tablespoons of pickling salt in 3.8 liters of water and pour over the olives to soak them. Let the olives cure for a week, by which time they are ready to eat. Store olives in the refrigerator in brine for up to a few weeks.
- Shriveled olives will plump again when soaked in olive oil for a few days.
- If the lye solution burns, treat it by placing the affected area under running water for 15 minutes and consulting a doctor. Do not try to neutralize a burn due to an alkaline solution with lemon juice or vinegar; mixing an acid and a base can be dangerous.
- For the brine, the solution is just the right mix when you put a raw egg in it, the egg floats.
- Make sure you only use a food-safe lye solution to preserve the olives. Never use pipe lye or oven (as a source of lye) to preserve olives.
- The brine solution can be diluted with the boiling water and salt mixture and allowed to cool before mixing with the olives.
- Foam may form on the surface of the salt water. Foam is harmless as long as the olives are completely submerged, but the foam should be removed once it has formed.
- Don't try olives when soaked in lye, wait up to 3 days after soaking in plain water before trying.