Often we are asked ‘what is the best recipe for pickling or curing your own table olives’ emphasising they couldn’t be bothered changing the brine on a daily basis for a month! Fair enough because that’s a lot of work. However, you might like to know there are different styles or preparations of Table Olives. Let me explain:
- Lye Treated Olives: Lye is essentially caustic soda. Yes, you heard right! Most people who have tasted olives associate the taste to resemble cardboard probably have eaten a Lye-treated olive. Lye treated olives can be treated green, turning colour or black. The colour of the olives is usually brilliant green or black (depending on the maturation stage of the fruit once they’ve been processed). This process is much quicker around 30 days.
- Naturally Brined Olives: Brine solution is made from salt and water and usually at about 11% concentration. Olives can be Green, turning colour or fully black. This process can take anywhere from 3 to 18 months depending on the variety and maturation point of the olive. A generous sized Jumbo Kalamata will be on the more lengthy side of production. Olives that are processed through brining are flavoursome and would be worth a try if you’ve only tried Lye treated olives.
- Dehydrated olives/shrivelled olives: Can be processed through a partial Lye treatment and then dehydrated in salt or by heat. A dehydrator can be used, however, the salt will help to de-bitter your olives and maybe give some salt flavour depending on time being treated. Olives can be green, turning colour or black for this process.
- Blackened Oxidated Olives: For this method, you can use Green olives or olives turning colour are preserved in brine (fermented or not) and darkened with or without Lye treatment. They need to be uniform in colour from brown to black. Olives darkened by this method should be sealed in containers and subjected to heat sterilisation process.
So, in a nutshell, most of the recipes you see will use one of these methods. It’s about experimentation and finding the recipe which suits your time allowance and more importantly tastes! Here are some recipes you might like to try (some take more time than others):
- Lost Arts
- Pickling in Yesteryear (5 methods)
- Favourite Greek Pickling Method
- Pickling Peasant Style
- Ash and Olives
- Safe Methods for Home Pickling – (Download) includes a range of recipes including Sicilian styles olives, Dry Salt-cured olives, Dehydrating method as well as packing and storing your olives in a safe manner in a home environment.
Read about: Slitting, Scratching or Cracking may be of interest to help speed-up the process.