Everything on olives from the tree to table

Everything on curing olives from the tree. You can’t just pick the from the tree and eat them. They are way too bitter and it will make you sick. This bitter compound called oleuropein is a bitter carbohydrate. Curing removes oleuropein, making them absolutely delicious. In this article olive is hyper-linked and will bring you to the wikipedia page where they are discussed but not in a in depth process on curing them like I’ve gone into here. BEWARE this article contains lye curing information and for safety, never add water to unmixed lye, always add lye to water. If your going to print this, it is 19 pages long!

The easiest is to take them and out fresh, ripe olives in a pillowcase with an equal weight of salt. Hang outside. Shake up every day or two. When edible, rinse and pack in oil. This dates back to ancient greece, with the exception of the pillow case. These are really really strongly flavored. This is called dry curing. There are 3 different ways, including this easy way.

There are many other ways though.

Water Curing “Smashed” or “Cracked” Olives is great for large green olives.

Wash olives. With stone or mallet, crack the meat of the olive, taking care not to bruise the pit. Put the olives in a pan and cover with cold water for 6-8 days, changing the water twice a day, morning and evening, until the bitterness is gone (taste to test). When ready, fill the pan with brine * (about 1 part sea salt to 10 parts water) and lemon juice (about 1 part lemon juice to 10 parts water), transfer to jars if desired, and refrigerate for several hours before eating.

There is brine curing.

Brine curing is wonderful for small black olives after they’ve been pitted. Place them in a pan topped with brine. (1 part sea salt to 10 parts water) Cover them and place something ontop to hold them down and keep them submerged. It takes about 3 weeks, shaking the pan each day and changing the brine each week, then taste for bitterness (they could take up to 5-6 weeks depending on the olives) When their to your liking, place in jars 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar and top off with a layer of olive oil ontop of the brine.

Dry (Salt) Curing #2 for large black olives

Outdoors, in a basket, burlap bag, or wooden box lined with burlap (this is to allows air to circulate), layer olives with coarse sea salt (you’ll need about 1 pound of salt for every 2 pounds of olives). Leave the olives outside (with plastic underneath to catch the juices that drain and preferably away from animal access) for 3-4 weeks, shaking daily and adding a little more salt every 2-3 days. Taste for bitterness (rinsing the olive first). When no longer bitter, you can either shake off excess salt and keep them that way, or shake off the excess salt and dip them quickly in boiling water to get rid of the salt. They can then be marinated for a few days in olive oil to regain plumpness (this type of curing will shrivel them but produce a really strong flavor that most people don’t like), or just coated well with olive oil (using your hands) before eating.

I get them wooden boxes for vegtables from out back behind some of the groceries store…or will make them out of wooden palates they get thrown out. Either way the burlap also keeps them from sitting on what ever nastyness might of been in contact with the wood before hand, I also like to take and add a lid to help keep animals from tearing the bag open to get at my poor olives.

dry curing #3 finally something to do with chipped mason jars!

In a mason jar with a chip in the mouth (I got plenty) Take and toss in your small olives. Alternate layers of olives with coarse salt. Every day shake them well for 3 weeks, add more salt to absorb the juices. Taste for bitterness after rinsing. If the olive is still bitter continue to cure. If their not bitter add warm water to cover, and add 4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and top with olive oil. This way they will be ready to gnaw on after 4-5 days.

Oil curing

Cover in olive oil and leave them alone for several months. Test them to make sure their alright.

For the brine I got a few tips.

The water/salt ratio is perfect when a raw egg floats in it.

For cracked olives, when ready, transfer to a brine that’s less salty to keep for long periods.

There is also lye curing….wich I don’t recommend…

I believe it was the roman Rutilius Taurus Aemilianus Palladius who wrote in de re rustica.

Mix together a setier of passum, two handfuls of well-sifted cinders, a trickle of old wine and some cypress leaves. Pile all the olives in this mixture, saturate them with this paste in garnishing them with several layers, until you see it reach the edges of the containers.

Passum is freshly extracted grape juice if memory serves me right. So lye and ash water is quite interesting, as you get a lye cure and fermentation going at the same time. I’ve never had them this way, but it sounds very interesting.

The only olives today that use a lye cure are the French Lucques, Italian Cerignola and Spanish manzanilla.

Lye cured olives are not like the other types, as you must be using unripe green olives, with the exception of water cured. The lye cure softens the meat of the olive. You want to get good olives from a good tree. A stressed tree makes it week to the olive fly. A nasty pest, the larva of this nasty little bug burrows into an olive and eats it from within. Similar to the worm in an acorn. Like a acorn look for holes in your olives…if you find holes, get rid of them. The worm is not poisonous but I dislike my olives with worms in them. The worm leaves a scar like an acorn.

I do not think food grade lye vrs real lye has any real difference. A good lye though is red devil lye. It must be 100% lye….DO NOT USE DRAINO FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! So read the back of it, if it’s not 100% lye do not use it.

Wear glasses if you have them. Wear long sleeves and pants and closed shoes. You will probably not get lye on you, but better to be safe. I go one step further and use a dusk mask.

Pour 1 gallon of cold and only cold water. Pour this water into a stoneware pot, or glass container. DO NOT USE ALUMINUM! Aluminum reacts with lye it will make everything poisonous.

Add 3 tablespoons of lye to the water. Always add lye to water, not water to lye. A splash of unmixed lye can burn you. Stir well with a wooden spoon. AGAIN NO ALUMINUM!

From here, it’s smooth sailing.

You use cold water because the reaction between lye and water generates heat, and the hotter the lye-water solution, the softer the olives will become.

Stir them in with that wooden spoon and put something over all the olives so they do not float. This is vital. Olives exposed to air while curing turn black. Don’t worry, they will absorb the water and sink in a few hours, but to start you need to submerge them.

Let them sit like this for 12 hours at room temp. The solution is going into the olives breaking down the chemical molecules that makes them bitter called oleuropein. After 12 hours….pour them water down the drain.

This is where the lye curing process varies….extremist olive lovers think only 1 lye treatment of 12 hours provides the best results with the best flavor, while others recommend a second, third, and 4th soak at 12 hours a peice. I think their just fine with 1 treatment as they are much more flavorful. The only way I’d soak mine more then once, is if they were massive…wich case I’ll soak them again and check them for bitterness. No eating them isn’t bad, but it will give you indigestion. A small peice is best. A very small peice.

The water will be very dark in color. As fast as possible get the olives back into COLD water. If exposed to air long enough they turn black.

Now to cleanse them of the lye solution. The trick is to soak them in water 2-4 times a day for 3-6 days, depending on the size of the olives. After 2 days, taste one: It should be a little soapy, but not too bitter. It’ll be bland, and a little soft. Once the water runs clear you should lose that soapy taste.

It should now be time to brine them after you taste them to make sure they don’t taste soapy. Make a brine of 3/4 cup GOOD salt to 1 gallon of water. You will really taste the difference later on. Kosher salt is ok….I prefere Trapani. It is a very good sicilian salt. It’s not that bad on price, but it makes a world of a difference. Let them sit for a week in this brine. Then pour the brine off them and make a new brine using 1 cup of salt to 1 gallon of water.

Now here comes the fun part of this labor of love….Traditional spanish cure would add some vinegar to the mix with bay leaf and spices. I love to play with my olives depending what I am planning to use them on. Mexican I’ll add some mexican spices, like powdered pablano peppers and a touch of smoked salt, or various other flavors of mexico. My favorite is adding a touch of smoked salt, chiles, black pepper, coriander, mustard seed, and garlic.

They will be beautifully green. Very buttery, olive-y flavored and salty. This is the cadillac of olives.

I know lots of other ways…but after this article I am very tired.

Olive trees will not grow from zones 7 and below…UNLESS you grow them in containers…be aware…they can grow 10-25 feet…so don’t let them get so high you can’t get them through the door. Arbequina Olive trees are cold hardy…I’ve never tried getting them to grow here….

Alrighty…well rested here goes more on the curing of olives.

There are different stages of ripeness. There are 7 types of ripeness all based on color. Green ripe, wich are very green. There is also a slightly lighter green wich is also green ripe. Then there is yellow green to straw. Rose, then red brown,dark red or purple then naturally black.

Green ripe is best when harvested in mid september. When squeezed they will release a creamy white juice. Many people prefere to take and harvest them when they are evenly colored though. Black olives, or dark red to purple generally ripen on the tree and take 3-4 months to ripen after they first turn green. In california, mid november through to december is when their ready, though it heavily depends on a lot of factors, such as variety, yeild, weather conditions and region. When they reach the naturally black stage, they will release that dark olive juice you’d find in the can.

Brine cured are naturally fermented. The flavor is very unique. These are very hard to do, as they may take 3-6 months or longer to cure. It all depend on the salt concentration, acidity, trempature, maturity, and variety. Green ripe olives take longer to cure in brine then naturally black ripe olives. Greek style uses mature olives, wich are cured in a strong brine for several months, while the sicilian style are made with green ripe olives in a seasoned brine for 4-6 months. The salt reduced the chance of spoilage and ensures a sonsistant fermentation. They can be stored in brine for a year.

For the greek style, you always use mature dark red purplish olive. It must be firm and harvested before the frost. They also work with any olive variety. Manzanillo, mission and kalamata are most common though. Some olives will have their color fade, but the color can come back when expose to air. They will be marked by being slightly shriveled because of the high salt content of the brine used to preserve them, they will be somewhat fruity and bitter when finished. (I can hear my arteries crystalizing already)

You don’t need much, just fully matured olives, pickling salt, our trust milk jug and jars.

The olives will cure more evenly if they are all of a similar size.So I recommend sorting them by size and discarding any olive fly ridden olives. Pack the olives in a container, a 1 quart glass jar is the smallest size I’d recommend. Make a medium brine, 3/4 cup of pickling salt to every gallon of cool water. Cover the olives and close the lids loosely, let them sit 60-80 degrees, a cave in italy would be nice if you got one. After 7 days replace the brine with a strong brine. 1 1/2 cups of pickling salt per gallon of water. Close the lids firmly and store in the brine at least 2 months. If they are still too bitter for ya, and they most likely will be, change the brine every month with another batch of strong brine for the next 2-3 months.

Remember these olives are fermenting as well…Check them daily! If the gas pressure builds up it will caue the lids to buldge, loosen them. The gas is naturally produced by the bacteria that are helping fermentation. If the brine begins to leak out, replace it with more brine. 1 1/2 cups pickling salt to 1 gallon water. If you like the olives fairly bitter, you can eat them and or cook with them after 2 month of storage, but they will be less bitter at 3 months.

Like all jarred stuff, cool dark place in the brine for a year if it remains air tight, the lids don’t corrode, for up to a year. This will help with yeast and mold.

REFRIGERATE after opening. You can also soak them in water over night to reduce saltiness before eating them straight. They can also be topped off with olive oil and left in the fridge, but before using let them sit at room temp as the oil might turn into jelly.

Sicilian style olives, are pretty much similar to spanish style cocktail olives, but are more bitter cause they are fermented in seasoned brine. The commercial cocktail olives are cured with lye *horrified gasp*. For these true cocktail olives, ue green ripe olives of any variety, but I like sevillano olives, and only use green ripe, the rose or red brown colored olives will often and not hold up during the curing process.

You need the following, green ripe olives, dill pickling pices or desired seasonings, pickling salt, 5% acetic acid vinegar, jars and milk jug.

Can sort them to size, no real use. Pack the olives in quarts or half gallon jars. In each container add your desired seasonings, GET CREATIVE, experiment, though dill pickling spice is nice. 1 level tablespoon per quart jar, or 1 rounded tablespoons per 2 quart jar. You might like fennel seed, 1/2 teaspoon per quart, maybe some fresh fennel or dill, with chopped garlic, or you might like hot wich would use whole peppercorns and whole dried chili peppers. I prefere hot, great in sweet cool martinis.

Now we must make the brine. The brine all depends on the olives. Larger olives shrivel easily in strong brines, like sevillano and ascolanos. For larger olives you need a medium strong brine, 1 cup pickling salt per 1 gallon of water. For small olives like manzanillo and mission varieties they don’t shrivel easily, a strong brine works bet, 1 1/2 cups of pickling salt per gallon of water.

Add 2 cups of vinegar to each gallon of brine cover in the jars or barrel with brine vinegar mixture and loosely cover. They should be stored at 70 degrees for about 2 months, keep checking them, the fermentation will be very rapid at tempratures between 70-90 degrees, during the first 4-5 days there will be large amounts of gas, and excessive foaming and frothing…Replace any lost brine, keep them full at all times. Replacement brine should be 1 cup of pickling salt plus 1 2/3 cup of vinegar for ever gallon of water. When the bubbling stops, about 2 months maybe less, tighten the lids and let them sit for 2-4 months until the olives develop their flavor. They can be stored in a cool dark place for 1 year in brine when properly fermented. ALWAYS CHECK the lids, they can corrode quick.
Ripe olives bruise easily, and their flesh is nearly completely pigmented, if they are pigmented to the pit, they are considered over ripe. Over ripe will be super soft after being cured, but are great when dried.

Each variety of olive is best for different processing. They are judged on flavor, texture, size, and processing characteristics.

Manzanillo variety is best for lye cured olive and spanish style green olive, while the mission variety is wonderful for dry salt cured ripe olves and dark ripe styles, or california black ripe style, while the kalamata olives is best for kalamata style water cured olives and the sevillano variety is delicious when used for a sicilian style fermented olives.

Olives need to be stored properly. They should be processed within a few days after harvest. Green ripe store better then naturally black ripe olives. I find the best temprature is between 41 and 50 degrees f. A shallow ventilated crate i best. If you store olives between 32 and 36 degrees f for 2 weeks or more, they can get chill injury wich will lead to internal browning and skin browning. So limit them to short exposure. Sevillano olives are the most likely to get chill injury, then ascolano, manzanillo, with miion being least likely. 6 weeks or more of storage of fresh olive at 50 degrees will lead to surface pitting and spotting.

Lye curing is the most rapid and efficient process for de-bittering olives. Though they are seen by many as less flavorful then other style. Brined usually undergo a natural fermentation like dill pickles and sauerkraut. Acids during fermentation process the lactic aci bacterial that are present on the olives giving them a very distinctive flavor and aroma. Brined olives are saltier then lye cured. Water curing does not change the flavor much.

The shelf life of olives you make at home depend on the olive style. You can freeze, dry, presure can, etc different types of olives.

I will go indepth to these other preserving methods. First let’s note what you can do to preerve your home made olives.

Water cured olives have 2 varieties. Kalamata style, and meditteranean style. Both are suitably preserved by a finishing brine, wich is a vinegar salt solution that will add the characteristic flavors. They an be eaten within a few weeks, and will be slightly more bitter then other methods. They can also be refrigerated.

Brine cured olives have 2 types as well. Greek style black olives in brine, and sicillian style green olives in brine. Of course a finishing brine works nicely but they can also be tossed into the fridge.

Dry salt cured can be refrigurated and frozen. Frozen however is best for smaller olives with high oil content such as kalamatas, picholine, mission, where as larger olives like barouni, ascolano, and sevillano will get softer when frozen.

Lye cured olives also have 2 different styles, green olives, and dark ripe style olives. They can both be brined, refrigged, frozen, dried, and pressure can.

Then there is lye cured fermented olives, such as spanish style green olives. These can be brined, refrigerated, and pressure canned.

There is two types of olives you see in stores that are water cured.

Kalamata olives are cut then water cured. Mediterranean style cracked olives.

Kalamata style water cured olives are best with dark red or purple black olives. They should be firm, and harvested before the first frost. They should be oil ritch, like mission or kalamata olives. Sevillano olives will become too soft.

You will need pickling salt, red wine vinegar, olive oil and jars along with a 1 gallon milk jug.

If you want you can sort your olives by size and discard any bruised or iffy olives. Give them a good rinse in water and let drain. Witha knife cut 2 lengthwise cuts on each olive, you only wanna go 1/8th inch into the olive.

Place the olives in your jars, over with fresh cool water, keep them ubmerged by placing something ontop of them. (I use sandwich baggys with dried beans to hold them down) Close the lid loosely and leave them to soak for 24 hours. Cover again with cool water, repeat change daily for 8-10 days based on your desired level of desired bitterness. If you want them less bitter soak up to 20 days, keep changing that water daily.

Keep an eye on your olives, over soaking will lead to soft olives with a washed out taste.

To make a finish brine, add 1 1/2 cups pickling salt to 1 gallon of cool water. stir and dissolve then add 4 cups red wine vinegar. This will treat 10 pounds of olives.

Drain your olives, cover with the finish brine, and add 1/4 to 3/8ths of an inch olive oil on top. Close the container lid firmly, and store 60-80 degrees. They will marinate in thi vinegar salt solution for about 1 month and develop their flavor that many kalamata lovers desire. They can be stored for 1 year in a cool dark place, or refrigerated providing the container remain air tight.

Their counter part I briefly covered is the mediterranean style crack olives and is personally my favorite. The reason is, I like to spice my olives for certain dishes. Like for a tomato olive relish ontop of a nice swordfish steak, I’ll use a bit of lemon, galic and oregano seasining.

To do this, you will need green ripe olives, pickling salt, white wine vinegar, herbs or other seasonings, jars, and 1 gallon milk jug.

Again you can sort them. I just remove the wormed ones. Then rinse them. Instead of slicing them, you get 2 at a time on a cutting board and strike them with the flat side of a mallet, just to crack the fleh, do not break the pits or remove them. Place them in a jar covered in water, keep them submerged.Cover and submerge let them oak 6-7 days, if you want them less bitter no more then 3 days. Keep changing the water daily.

Prepare the finishing brine, 1 1/2 cups of pickling salt to 1 gallon of cool water, with 2 cup of white wine vinegar. This will treat 10 pounds of olives.

Now that they are in their brine, you can take and add spice to them now. Chopped oregano, garlic and some lemon slices. Seal container, and refrigerate. They are best if kept refrigerated, and will be ready to eat after 4 days….HOWEVER I let mine sit longer, for upto a week to let the flavor develop more. They are best stored in the friged for a year in the brine.

Dry salt cured I mentioned in my previous post, the pillow case.

These are doen with dark red to black fully ripe oil rich olives like mission olives, but others will work. Small olives are best, large ones will soften too much. Salting dehydrates the olive and they will be soft moist (don’t know how they will still be moist they just are) and shriveled. They are ready to eat 5-6 weeks after you start the salting processs. They will be salty and bitter as they don’t remove as much of the bitter oleuropein. They are best stored for up to 6 months in the fridge but they can be stored for longer in the freezer.

You will need a dark red to purplish black olive, pickling salt, a slat wood box, wicker, or plastic basket/bin, cheese cloth or nylon mesh and jars.

Sort them removed bruised and wormed olives. Prepare a large container like a slat wood box or large wicker basket. It will most likely stain…so don’t use a favorite pillow case. A plastic bin with drainage holes in the bottom is good and line it with nylon mesh or cheese cloth. Place it outside under cover, or over a large pan so the draining brine won’t ruin the floor (first time experiance). Raise the container on blocks to improve air circulation around the bottom.

Now you must weigh the olives. 1 1/2 cups of pickling salt for every 2 pounds of olives. Mix the salt and olives very thoroughly in the container to distribute the salt and prevent molding. pour 1 inch additional pickling salt over the olives. Cover them with cheesecloth and let sit 60-80 degrees f.

After a week remix the salted olives by pouring them into a clean pail an then back into the first container add a small layer of salt ontop, cover the container with clean cloth and let it stand. Repeat once a week for the next month. When the olives are ready pour them over a coarse screen to sift out any left over salt. Allow them to dry overnight at room temp.

Before storing, add 1 1/2 cup of pickling alt to each 10 pound of cured olives. Mix them with the salt and pack into jars. Store in a cool place and use within a month or refrigerate them for 6 months or a freezer in a plastic container for a year, They will beome rancid if tored longer. You can use them for cooking or eating out of hand. They can be dipped into boiling water to remove salt and allow them to air dry and them rub with a little olive oil and are delicious when you add herbs such as rosemary before serving. (a staple during holidays when 60 pounds of olives are consumed between thanksgiving and christmas in my family)

As covered before lye will react with certain materials. Safe materials are stainless steel, cast iron, enamelware, glass, stoneware thats heat proof, wooden barrels and house hold plastics intended for food.

Lye is multipurpose, if you make your own soap, you may have some make sure it’s 100%, it is also ued for peeling some peaches, and preparing food suh a lutefisk (sandinavian dish) and hominy.

Use light colored containers as dark colors may leach color into your food. If you must use a dark colored container, soak it for a few days using 4 tablespoons of flake lye, or 3 level tablespoons of grnaular lye to 1 gallon of water…ALWAYS ADD LYE TO THE WATER< NOT WATER TO THE LYE. Rinse the container thoroughly before use.

Metals like, aluminum, tin, lead zinc galvanices metal with lye, will corrode and ruin containers and give off hydrogen gas. Zinc in galvanized coatings will make everything poisonous. A face shield ruber apron and rubber boots are recommended.

There is two types of pure lye, granular, and flake. Use an accurate scale to measure it. Stir the solutions until the lye is completely disolved. There is heat involved. You must keep the solution to 65-70 degree, before using it with olives other wise the olives will soften and discolor. Use a digital thermometer to check the temprature.

Keep it in a moisture resistant container and away from children or pets.

PLANNING IS KEY…you mut dispose of the lye solution after. So keep it somewhere near a drain, like a laundry sink, or spare bathtub. This way your not carrying big buckets of corrosive solutions through the pout and carefully pour the lye solution and rinse what ever your pouring the solution into very well. It will enter the community water treatment system then get cleaned. You must not pour it into storm sewers. Rinse everything very well.

First first aid…if it gets on your skin, take off any lothes touched by the lye, rinse the skin with lukewarm water for at least 15 minute, and call poison control.

If it gets into your eye, rinse your eye with lukewarm water for at least 15 minutes and call poison control.

If you swallowed it…give small sips of water or milk immeiately, call poison control, and don’t throw up. If you fall unconscious convulsing or having a hard time breathing or swallowing call 911…WORK WITH SOMEONE when using lye. If your out cold or convulsing…you cannot operate the phone.

There are two styles green and dark ripe style, both made with green ripe olives, the brown black color of the dark ripe style happens when you expose it during the lye curing process. There is natural phenolic compound in the olives they react with oxygen and create the black color similar to oxidization of an apple.

Lye cured olives can be store for 2 months in a brine or they can be stored for longer periods by freezing, drying or pressure canning.

For green ripe olives look for green, straw colore or slighty red fruit, and it is best to look for the same degree of ripeness and size for even curing. This will produce straw yellow or green brown olives that are ready to eat within 2 weeks after the start of the lye treatment.

Green straw colored or slightly red olives, protective equipment, 100% pure lye, lye resistant containers and utensils, cheese cloth or nylon mesh, pickling salt, 1 gallon milk jug and glass containers to hold the olives in brine.

Sort your olives, This is so the lye can penetrate all the olives in that batch at a more even rate, discard black ripe, or bruised or wormy olives.Place the olives according to size into different lye resistant containers. Prepare a lye solution using 2 ounces of lye, roughly 4 level tablespoons of flake lye, or 3 level tablespoons of granular lye to every gallon of cold water. The solution will heat up, add lye to water not water to lye, cool the solution to 65 to 70 degrees f before use.

Cover your olives with the cooled lye solution. you will need to check them regularly over the next 12 hours, so keep it in mind for a day off of work and nothing better to do. Place a cheesecloth or nylon mesh over the olives and weigh them down firmly with a heavy plate to keep the olives submerged. This will keep them from darking. You must avoid exposing them to air during the lye treatment. Stir every 2 hours until the lye reaches the pits, it will take usually 10-12 hours. Check every hour or 2 to look for lye penetration.

To test for lye penetration, remove several olives from the lye solution with saintless steel poon and rinse under lots of running water, cut the olive with a sharp knife. The lye will take the flesh from white or slightly brown to a yellowish green color. Olives with lye penetration will be yellowish green uniformilyfrom the skin to the pit. If the lye has not penetrated it, you will see milky white flesh surrounding the pit and extending out to where the flesh is lye discolored. Check your olives before taking and tossing them into the lye to see what color the flesh is exactly.

If the lye has not penetrated to the pit, carefully drain off the lye solution. Cover the olives with a cool fresh lye solution using 1 ounce of lye, 2 level tablespoons of lye flake or 1 level tablespoon plus 1 level teaspoon granular lye per gallon of water, let stand until lye penetration is complete, this might take 30 hours if the olives are extremely green. Sometimes the second lye treatment is not effective because some olives neutralize most of the lye before it can penetrate to the pits. If this happens traing off the olives again and cover them with a cool fresh lye solution, 3 level tablespoons of flake lye, or 2 level tablespoons of granular lye to every gallon of water. Let the olives stand until you test the olives for lye penetration and it’s uniformily yellowish green.

Drain off the lye solution and rince the olives twice with cold water, and let them stand in fresh cold water completely covered. For the next few days change the water 2 times a day to wash the olives of lye. Work quickly to drain and cover the olives with fresh water to limit the exposure to air. Thi will help keep them from darkening, after 2-3 days begin to taste the olives regularly until they no longer taste soapy. This may need to be done for 7-8 days depending on the olives and regularity of rinsing and the volume of water used. The color will gradually change from olive green to a lighter yellow to a pink and then to clear. When the washing is complete (water will be clear) drain the water from the olives. They must then be brined, wich is a short term storage. To brine them they will keep for 2 weeks. Prepare a light brine, containing 6 level tablespoons of pickling salt for ever gallon of water. Cover the olives with brine and let stand for 2 days. If the brine turns slightly pink, there is still some lye present, wash them again until all the lye is removed. After standing in brine for 2 days they are ready for use. They can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks in a tightly covered container.

If you wanna store them longer, like for 2 months…prepare a medium brine uing 3/4 cup of pickling salt per gallon of water. Store the olives for 1 week in the brine, drain and replace with a strong brine, made with 1 1/2 up of pickling salt per gallong of water. After 10-12 day replace with brine again, 1 1/2 cups to 1 gallon of water. It is really important with larger olives that you gradually increase the brine strength to prevent shriveling. These can be stored in the fridge for 2 months tightly covered. They can soak over night to remove some of the alt then use them within 3 days.

For dark ripe style olives, the method is a bit more labour intensive. you require the same equipment, except there is 5 lye treatments.

Sort your olives place into lye resistant containers. For the first lye treatment, you use 3 level tablespoons of lye flake, or 2 level tablespoons of granular lye to every gallon, cool the solution to 65-70 degree. Pour the cooled solution over the olives and cover them complete. Start checking after 3 hours and then test for lye penetration (yellowish green flesh), it should penetrate just under the skin. Pour off the lye solution and let them sit in the air for a day. Gently stir them 3 times evenly paced during the day.

The second lye solution you prepare 3 level tablepoons of lye flake or 2 level tablespoons of granular lye to every gallon of water. Pour it over the olives and keep checking them. Your looking for lye penetration of 1/32 to 1/16th of an inch into the flesh, pour off the solution and let them sit in the air for a day.

The 3rd lye treatment, 3 level tablespoons of flake lye or 2 level tablepoons of granular lye to 1 gallon of water…soak them for another 3 hours and begin checking them, your looking for penetration of 1/8th to 3/16ths into the flesh and drain and let them chill out for a day.

the 4th lye treatment 3 level tablespoons of flake lye or 2 level tablespoons granular lye to 1 gallon of water. Soak another 3 hours and check again every half hour. Your looking for penetration between 3/16th to 5/16th of an inch into the flesh, pour off the solution and let them hang about for a day.

For the 5th and thankfully finally lye treatment, 4 level tablespoons of flake lye or 3 level tablespoon of granular lye, to every gallon, keep the solution to 65-70 degrees pour over the olives and let it penetrate to the pits. Pour off the solution and let them sit in the air for a day. Cover with cold water and change it 2 times a day, after 2-3 days check for taste. If they still taste soapy keep washing. This may take 7-8 days. Over washing will leave them rather bland and washed out tasting.

Drain the water cover the olives with brine and let stand for 2 days before eating. A light brine is nice to start, 6 level tablespoons of pickling salt for every gallon of water, and they will keep while refrigerated for 2 weeks in a tightly covered container. For a longer life, over with a strong brine 1 1/2 cups of pickling salt for every gallon of water. the olives will keep for 3 months in this strong brine, and can soak them over night in water to remove excess salt, but eat them within the next 3 days.

Next lye cured fermented olives…Sevillano and manzanillo olives are excellent but same degree of size and ripeness is key to even curing. The olive will have a light flesh and light brownish buff pit. They will be ready to eat 2 months after you start the lye treatment but will be much more flavorful after 6 months in the brine.

Take and sort the olives, remove bruised olives, blackened ripe fruit, and defective.

For sevillano olives prepare a lye solution of 4 level tablespoons of flake lye or 3 level tablespoons of granular lye per gallon of cold water. The servillano olive will blister and peel if you use a stronger lye solution…

For manzanillo and mission olives, prepare a stronger lye solution, using 5 level tablespoons of flake lye, or 3 1/2 level tablespoons of granular lye per gallon of cold water. Thee olives are more bitter then other varieties but don’t blister or peel as easily. The solution will heat up during mixing. Cool 65-70 degrees f.

Cover olives with cooled solution, place clean cheesecloth or nylon mesh over the olive and weigh down firmly with a plate to keep them submerged or they will darken. Keep them submerged as it is undersirable for the color to change.

Let the olives stand and allow the lye to penetrate the olive flesh 3/4 of the way to the pit, this may take at least 5 hours. Check every 1-2 hours by looking for the tell tale yellowish greenish color change in a sliced olive.

When the penetration i complete pour them off quickly, cover with cold water, change the water 3-4 times during the next 24-50 hours to wash the lye. Avoid air exposure to keep them from darking. Do not wash the olives more frequently then this as you would leech out the sugars needed for fermentation. After 24 hours taste for the soapy lye taste. The olives will still be slightly bitter.

The brine is dependant on the size of the olives. For small olives like manzanillo and mission varieties wich don’t shrivel easily, mix a strong brine 1 1/2 cups pickling salt to 1 gallon of water. For large olives like sevillano and ascolano varietie, wich will shrivel easily make a medium brine. 1 cup of pickling salt to 1 gallon of water. After washing them pack in jars. Fill the containers with the brine loosely close the container lits. For small quantities quart size jars are best, for larger quantities of olives 1-5 gallong glass jars, food grade pails, kegs, or large oak barrels. 1 gallon of olives in brine is about 5 1/2 pounds of olives.

Add starter cultures of lactic acid bacteria at thi point. You can get the culture from unheated dill pickle or sauerkraut brine. If you don’t make them you can get them from unheated commercial deli products, though they are a specialty. Do not use canned sauerkraut or dill pickled brine as they don’t contain the active bacteria. Add this brine at a rate of 3/4 of a cup per gallon of olives and brine.

Store the olives below 100 degrees, best is 70-90 degrees. During this period of 4-5 days gas will build up along with foaming and frothing take care and replace the lost brin. Then when the gas production i no so violent tighten the lids to keep air out and minimize surface yeast and mold, replacement brine should be made of 1 cup of pickling salt to 1 gallon of water.

After 2-6 months in brine the olives are done, but will be much more flavorful with longer fermentation. Fermentation is complete when they have the desired acidity and characteristic taste of spanish style green olives. They can be stored in a dark place for 1 year providing it is cool and dry.

Now for preserving your cured olives….consentrated brine.

Cured olives can be preserved in heavily concentrated brine and stored at room temp for 8-0 months. A very strong brine is 2 1/2 cup of pickling salt per gallon of water. Cover the olives with the brin let stand after 2 days, add 1 cup of pickling salt for each gallon of brine mix will after 2 more days add another cup mix well and store tightly. Before eating them for heavens sake wash them 4 times over a 2 day period.

Olives with a high oil content can be frozen. They are mission, kalamata and picholine varieties. If they are dry salt cured or lye cured, but others will be too soft when frozen. Lye cured olves must be boiled in brine before freezing them. Place them in a stainless steel sauce pan and over with a light brine, 6 level tablespoons of salt to 1 gallon of water, boil in brine for 10-15 minute. This will redue softening. Pack them in air tight containers without brine, into freezer bags to prevent them from drying out at 0 degrees for up to 1 year, the same with dry cured olives just toss them into freezer bags and freeze them nothing else needed. Before serving allow them to thaw. You can roll thawed olives in olive or salad oil with garlic and other seasonings.

Drying olives is removing water from food to preserve it. You can do it with lye cured green and dark ripe olives without having further treatment. You can do it in the sun or home dehydrator. You can also dry naturally black ripe olives. These are first blanched and then brine treated for 3 days before drying in the sun or the dehydrator. Black ripe olives will be slight bitter. Dried olives are good in cooking or eating out of hand without the need to soak. The amount of time it take to dry the olives depend on this moisture content. It also depends on the olive variety and size, the volume of being dried, the air’s humidity during the drying process and the dehydrato’s efficiency. Naturally black ripe olives need to be pretreated. Place them in boiling water for 3 minute drain them olives and place them into a food grade plastic, glass, or stainless steel container. Cover them with a strong brine. 1 1/2 cups of pickling salt per gallon of cool water close loosely. Store for 3 days and then drain them off. They are now ready for drying.

Now sun drying is my favorite. The high salt and oil content of cured or pretreated natually black olives make them wonderful for outdoor drying when the conditions are right. You need a minimum temprature of 85 degreens and less then 60% humidity. In these conditions sun drying takes 5-6 days. Birds and insects will be attracted to them. I find the best way of fighting this off…is with a very fine mesh net to keep the birds off of them, and covering the container in fine nylon. There are other methods though. I’m sure the same way you’d do tomatoes would suffice…only 5-6 days if conditions are right…If not you can do them in a dehydrator.

Set your dehydrator for 140 degrees, if no thermostat, use an easy to read thermometer on the bottom tray, arrange whole pretreated black ripe or lye cured olives on drying trays in single layers so they don’t touch or over lap. Leave 1-2 inches between trays. You may need to rotate them up and down the stack as they dry. It will take roughly 20-24 hours.

After drying cool them for 30-60 minutes before packaging. Don’t pack warm olives, a that would lead to sweating and moisture. You should also avoid long delay as they can reabsorb moisture from the air and spoil later.

Dried olives are to be stored in plastic bags and airtight containers. Pack the olives tight in the bag or container removing as much air a possible. Metal containers need them in plastic bag first to prevent reaction with the metal. They will keep for 3-4 months in a cool place, but they become rancid if stored longer. You can keep them in the freezer for a year. You can rehydrate them by soaking them in slightly salted water. 1/2 cup salt per gallon of water until plump, 8-12 hours add garlic and spices if you wish.

You can can cured olives as well…You need to use a pressure canner. They are low acid foods and need tempratures of 240 degrees for proper sterilization and safe canning. They can only be reached under pressure. That means no bath canning and no steam canning.

The best olives for home canning include lye cured and lye cured fermented. They must be left whole, not minced crushed chopped or sliced then packed in brine.

weighted gauge, 10 for sea level to 1000 ft, 15 for 1001-2000, 15 for 2001-4000, 15 for 4001-600, 15 for 6000+

dial gauge, 11 sea level -1000ft, 11 for 1001-2000, 12 to 2001-4000, 13 for 4001-6000, 14 for 6000+

They will need to be packed in brine for 60 minutes for pints, or 70 minutes for quarts. Control the heat to keep the pressure contant.

After processing in the canner finish turn off heat, leave it be while it cools don’t move it tilt it set it on a cold surface don’t sneeze on it, drool on it etc. Wait for the guage to read zero, or time the weighted ones 30 minute for pints, 45 minutes for quarts.

Lift with jar lifter from the canner. Place on towel board or cooling rack not a cold surface. Bubbling is normal. Do not tighten any loose ring bands after processing, retightening may damage the seal. Leave them for 24 hours to cool completely. Test the jar lid by pressing in the middle it should not move and be depressed. They will stay for 1 year after that their quality will start to decline.

Steam pockets will form in the flesh of the olives creating honeycombing, this is that harmless but will loose their firmness.

If the jars don’t seal reprocess with a new metal lid. Reprocess them again for 60-70 minutes depending on the jar.

If olives become soft bad smelling or moldy during processing or curing or preserving, don’t eat them or taste them. If they appear spoiled, or have corroded lids, buldging container or oozing from under the lid get rid of it.

I learned olives will soften because of….over ripe olives being used, allowing olives to overheat, the action of enzymes during prolonged storage before processing, the lye solution is too strong or the solution i too hot. The action of microorganisms such as molds yeasts and bacteria will also do it. These molds and bacteria will produce pectin degrading enzymes. The pectin acts as a cement holding the olive ferm. They will soften within 2 weeks in the presence of the enzymes. So check them periodically and remove any scum that forms ontop of it. If it’s microbial it is sporadic and may not occur in all containers. Make sure you store the olives properly as outlined in this massive guide.

Blisters will form with green olives if the lye solution is too strong. The skin will lift and blister or peel during the lye curing. Blistered olives are safe to eat but raise questions from dinner guests. Some bacterial can also caue it. These are called fish eyes and grow under the skin producing gas and forming blisters. If they are deeper inside the olive they can cause gas pockets to form in the olives. This is usually caused during the washing process that follows the lye soak, change the water at frequent intervals until the washing process is finished and your golden.

Foaming during lye treatment signals that the overripe olives have reached their maximum oil content. Excess oil reacts with the lye, causing them to foam. If it happens drain the olives and place them into fresh lye solution.

Well their are factors to consider when growing olives. Climate, soil and variety all play a part.

Olive trees like hot summers and cool winters.

An average daily temperature in January, for example, should be no
higher than 53.6 degrees F, covering a range from 32 degrees F overnight to
69.5 degrees F at noon. The trees will set flower buds only after being exposed to cool nights and warm days during winter. Warm day/cool night vernalization is essential for fruit bud development. It is important to note that if a tree is exposed to three or more days of 70 degrees F temperatures or higher during the winter months followed by a hard freeze, damage to the tree may occur. So I do not see why they won’t grow north of san antonio as long as climate is met.

The cold resistance is a varietal trait specific to some varieties of olives.

The damage to leaves and small stems happens at 17 degrees F and more severe damage at 12 degrees F. Trees can be killed to the ground with temperatures below 10 degrees F, but an extensive root systems allows mature trees to regenerate after a severe freeze.

The olive can withstand low temperatures of about 14 degrees F to 17.6 degrees F and lower for brief periods, providing thawing proceeds slowly and the tree is not actively growing.

I sugguest talking to the local master horticulturalist. They will know better what trees would survive the cold winter temperatures common in parts of Texas.

Olives will grow in hilly, rocky areas unsuitable for other crops. They
do not like heavy soils that hold excess water after rainfall. Soils must be welldrained for commercial olive production. In fact, some growers believe that the ability of the soil to drain well is the most important characteristic for olive tree production.

The soil must not be too acidic. The optimal is pH of 6.5 to 8.0 but can be changed by a simple method such as adding agricultural lime.

When choosing an olive growing location, it is also important to plant them on a southern facing hill. This gives them the optimum amount of sunlight while also giving excellent water run off.

Climate, disease resistance and the desired product – oil, table fruit or
both – are the main criteria for selecting the olive tree. Table fruit should be chosen by
yield, olive size and suitability for commercial processing or home processing on a small scale, 3-4 maybe 8 trees is plenty to keep you and the family busy.

For olive oil, flavor and shelf-life should be considered. Milder flavors can sometimes result in a shorter shelf life of olive oil..

Table olives should have a firm texture and a 6:1 flesh-to-pit ratio. If
black olives are desired, select a variety with a relatively even ripening stage.

An olive will yield between 10 percent to 25 percent of its weight in oil.

Italian Varieties:

Frantoio – medium fruit known chiefly for high-quality oil. It is self-fertile, and
sets fruit early. Fruit should be picked when it is green and purple. The olive’s
nutty flavor makes it a popular table fruit.

Leccino – hardy, resistant to wind, olive knot and fungus. Leccino’s medium, purple green olives are grown for oil and table fruit. The variety is selfsterile and needs a pollinator.

Maurino – early maturing, medium size fruit that turns purple-black when
ripe. A good choice for colder, humid areas, it produces good quality oil.
Needs a pollinator.

Moraiolo – small, roundish fruit with high-quality oil. Harvest takes place as
the fruit turns from green to deep purple-brown.

Pendolino – used worldwide mainly as a pollinator but contains 20 percent to
22 percent good quality oil. It tolerates cold well but is susceptible to common
olive diseases.

Spanish Varieties:

Arbequina – a relatively small tree suitable for dense planting. Small fruit produces oil considered high quality by some standards.

Arbosana – these trees are an old variety recently brought back to production in Spain
. They have a stronger-flavored oil and are often mixed with
milder oils to add flavor and increase shelf life.

Empeltre – these trees are grown in Spain and Argentina
and produce oil
with a fine flavor.

Manzanillo – the world’s No. 1 table olive with excellent flavor and texture.
It also has a medium oil content, making it a valuable dual-purpose choice.

Picual – oval and meaty with a fat content up to 28 percent. It produces a
strong, intense, full-bodied oil.

Other Varieties:

Mission – the most cold-resistant California
cultivar. It can be picked
green for Spanish green olives or brown-red for ripe olive processing.
Contains a high oil content.

So san antonio would be very well suited providing the requirements are met.

Once you get it all set..there are a few things after planting.

Deep-water the olive tree after planting to moisten the surrounding soil all the way to the tree’s roots. Continue to water your olive tree regularly to maintain slightly moist soil. Note that, while olive trees are considered drought tolerant, I’ve heard San Antonio-grown olive trees will perform best when provided with frequent supplemental irrigation.

Fertilize your olive tree with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer twice each year to ensure that your tree has the nutrients it needs for successful growth. Apply the first application in the early spring, as soon as new growth is observed. Apply the second fertilizer application in December to encourage healthy fruit-bud development. For best results, follow the application instructions on the fertilizer package.

For winter protection to prevent it from being killed by freezes. you must mound it 1 1/2 feet with frest topsoil around the bottom of the trees trunk in november, then remove the soil mount in early april when the weather warms up.

Prune the olive tree in the early spring to remove any dead damaged or diseased branches. Sharpened an sterilized pruning shears are needed to make clean pruning cuts. Don’t damage the branch bark collar when removing branches from the tree.

Maintain a 3 inch layer of mulch around your olive tree in the spring and summer and fall to help the tree conserve moisture.

Olive trees are susceptible to damage by common insects. Such as black scale bugs curculio beetles. The agricultural extension office in your local area can help with prevention and treatment advice.

The best advice I can offer is talk to an olive orchard owner in your area.
Trees will take between 2-5 years to produce depending on the variety.

I was also off, they will not grow in zone 6, but will grow in zone 7. 7 is the outer most tolerance for them.

So basically the varieties that would most likely grow are:

Frantoio: grown in Tuscany, Umbria, and other parts of Italy, The trees are only of medium height and bigger.They are self fertile and production is high and constant. This variety’s oils range from very light and fruity to somewhat peppery, depending on the stage at which the olives are harvested. Great in some umbrian dishes.

Leccino: favorite in the traditional olive-growing regions of Tuscany and Umbria. Leccino needs a polinator so it must be planted with other varieties such as Pendolino. Leccino olives produce a very fine, gentle, mellow and fruity oil. This oil will tone down more strongly flavored oils such as Frantoio and Coratina. Still great in a stir fry.

Pendolino: considered a universal pollinator and is compatible with all other trees. This cold hardy varietal originated in Tuscany. It is a constant good producer and grows 20+ feet in height.

Arbequina: Grown in Spain, these trees have proven very adaptable to a variety of climates. They are cold hardy and self pollinating. Suitable for very high-density plantings or orchards, they can thrive with as little as five feet between trees. While shorter than other varieties at maturity, these trees produce well after only two or three years in the ground, and their small olives produce a very sweet oil, with a delicate almond overtone. Very great in mashed potatoes believe it or not. Compliments the potatoes nicely.

Arbosana: capitalize on their ability to produce early, and on their suitability for high-density planting, this heirloom variety (50 year old or older seeds) of Spanish olives produces a stronger-flavored oil, often mixed with lighter oils to improve bite and nose, and to increase the shelf life of the bottled product.

Coratina: grown widely in the Puglia region of Italy. This variety is cold hardy and it will need a pollinator like Pendolino. It is medium sized – around 15 to 20 feet. It is constant bearing and a very heavy producer. Coratina oil is very stable and has undertones of apples and pepper. It becomes milder with age with an almond undertone.

Manzanilla: highly productive variety originated in Spain but is widely grown in the Middle East and the United States. The olives are primarily used for the table. The black olives that you find on the supermarket shelves are probably Manzanilla. This variety needs a pollinator; Sevillano or Pendolino. It bears in 4 to 5 years and production is good. These trees have medium resistance to cold as well as to changes in weather.

Picual: widely grown varietal in Spain and accounts for half of all olive production in that spain. It originated in what was the Moorish area of Spain. Considered vigorous, hardy, adaptable tree. It is medium cold resistant, and yields large amounts of fruit. Strains similar to this variety are commonly found throughout the Middle East. Its oil has a pungent taste with an undertone of figs, because the oil has such a high polyphenol content it can have a bite to it and has a very long shelf life.

Koroneiki: originated in Crete, is suitable for high-density orchards, and produces in two to three years after planting. The Koroneiki accounts for 75 percent of olive production in Greece. Although these trees bear small fruit, they give high and constant yields. Their olives produce an especially delicious, fruity oil with a slight undertone of green apple and leafy grass. The finish has a pleasant pepperiness and light bitterness. The oil also has a great shelf life.

Chemlali: This variety is the most common tree in the central and southern regions of Tunisia. It is resistant to drought and very cold hardy. Chemlali is self fertile and begins to bear early. It is a constant intermediate producer. The oil has a mild, fruity flavor that stands alone or blends well with other varieties. Particularly well drizzled over pasta.

Arbequina, arboana, koroneiki, manzanillo, and mission olives are edible table olives.

While chemlali, Croatina, frantoio, leccino, pendolino, and picual are only used for oil.

The distinction between table olives and oil olives, are oil olives are very high in oil, and thus more profitable to press into oil. However now they use centerfuges to spin the oil out of the olives. I am more partial to pressing as that it the old way of doing it.  Table olives are usually not very high in oil content so they usually take and end up on the table cause there isn’t much money in oil from them. Then there are those that are used for both, and they can be profitable both as a table olive and a oil olive.

I am currently working on a large list of olives from around the world, and making olive oil from scratch, and at this point in time, that may take awhile and will update this when I have that all typed out.

8 comments on “Everything on olives from the tree to table

  1. Lots of info! I was just think about the whole MUFA thing I should add olives into my diet regularly!!

    • Just remember it takes 1 to 2 years for an olive tree to begin producing, and each cultivar is diffrent from one other. They each have pests they are weak to, some don’t like wind, others hate salt in the soil. They can be very picky about there growing conditions.

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