Ask RAFAEL: Can you reuse Olive Brine for the next batch of olives?

Producer Question:

As mentioned the other day are you able to reuse the brine that the olives have been pickling in for 12 months or more for the new batch of olives?
I think about this every time I am throwing out mature brine and mixing up the new batch of saltwater brine. I would presume…dangerous…that the mature brine, which is at about 7% salt, would have to have salt added to bring it back to 10%.  I also wonder about the other aspects of the mature brine, sugars etc that are produced in the debittering process and if they need treating, or if they make it so that the mature brine cannot be re-used.
I cannot find any reference material that says yes or no and so would very much appreciate your assistance with this inquiry ASAP as we are right in the processing time and are disposing of mature brine every day.

Answer from International Expert, Rafael Pleite from Global Olive Consulting:
Reusing mature brine is not a common practice in the table olive industry, but it can be useful taking into account some considerations.

Talking about green natural olives, the brine usually has the suspension of solids and phenols from the olives themselves, which can make the medium cloudy and give an extra dark color to the brine, and secondly to olives.

On the other hand, this mature brine is supposed to have free acidity from the fermentation, so it can be used as a good starter medium for the 1st phase of the fermentation.

Finally, the mature brine has a microorganism content higher, principally because of mold and yeast, responsible of giving flavors to olives.

In Spain, there has been some experience, consisting in filtering the mature brine through carbon filters, but in the canning brine only, and not in the fermentation brine.

My opinion:

  1. Using this mature brine diluted in the new fresh brine, (20:80), can be useful, but increasing salt content previously until the normal % salt used in the fresh new brine, in this case, 10%, to get after equilibrium, safe salt concentration.
  2. Talking about black natural olives, the brine has suspension solids and phenols from the olives themselves. This is a good thing for improving the color of the olives.  In fact, in Greece and South America, some companies are using mature brine from kalamata olives fermentation, in order to improve the external color of olives during fermentation.

Again, you will have inside it high content in microorganisms, yeast, and mold, which can affect the initial phase of the fermentation.

Recommendation:

  • Using this mature brine diluted in the new fresh brine, (40:60), can be useful, but increasing salt content previously until the normal % salt used in the fresh new brine, in this case, 10%, to get after equilibrium, safe salt concentration.

I hope my answer can be useful, but as you say, there is no scientific reference concerning this issue.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s