Table Olives – Salt Cured (part 1)

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Saturday 29 November, 2014 by Uncle Spike

In some previous posts, we looked at how olives for table use are cured using water, salted, and then preserved in olive oil. But in this post we look at curing the olives dry, with just salt.

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First of all, not all olives are suitable for this process. Here, we specifically use the fruit from just three of our trees. The ‘Edremit’ variety are smaller than most, quite hard and have a larger than average kernel. Good for oil production, they are also excellent for black olive preserving by way of salt.

These are all picked gently by hand, and once two-thirds of the tree is ripe (purple/black coloured fruit), I strip the whole tree, as even the green fruit can be processed as perhaps only 5-8 days from being purple. If it’s left any longer, the majority of the fruit will drop and once bruised from the fall, can only be used for oil production.

First job is to sort out the best olives from those that are damaged, bug-bitten, rotten or over-ripe (they all go to the oil pile). Then remove any stems and give them a good soak/wash to remove dust, bugs and anything else you don’t want in your dinner.

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Using a sack or large tub, the layering of olives, salt, olives and so so can begin. I have shown the tub method initially here as it’s easier to demonstrate. We also use rice or grain sacks (made of woven plastic these days), as this allows the juice to leak out with almost zero effort on my part.

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So we layer 5cm (2″) of olives, then cover with two hands full of rock salt, then repeat until 3/4 full (max) – they need room to move and mix. 

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And here’s the sack method…

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Mix it all up a few times, and we’re all done.

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For the tub method, the top is only loosely put in place, and then tilted on its side. This is to allow the bitter water to escape. Each night I let the bitter water drain off, turn the tub and leave for another 24 hours. This goes on for 20 days by the way. 

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For the sack method, there is virtually no effort involved, as the bitter water escapes all by itself through the sacks’ weave. All I do is to turn the bag over once a day to ensure an even cure. Again, this goes on for 20 days. 

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The process continues in part two…

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11 thoughts on “Table Olives – Salt Cured (part 1)

  1. LB says:

    Spike, I really enjoy these posts about your farm, it’s products, and how you prepare them for various uses.

    Like

    • Uncle Spike says:

      Thanks – it’s all so ‘normal’ for me, but last year a few requests came my way to start sharing more about what we ‘do’ here. Glad you enjoy them – coz ya never know how some posts will be received 🙂

      Like

  2. Your posts are truly “multipolar” as advertised. Love it. p.s….why are the health benefits of olive oil so praised, but no real mention of eating the actual olive ??? Curious.

    Like

    • Uncle Spike says:

      Thanks Steven. My life is so varied, hence the blog has evolved the same. As for olive oil, not a clue; I’d have to Google that one – perhaps like the omega oils, some add benefit, some don’t. Shouldn’t be any difference to eating the olives though, just that you’d need to scoff 7-13 lbs per US pint of oil equivalent.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sue Slaght says:

    So fascinating Spike. Dave and I were just talking tonight about how we wished we had met you in the blogosphere prior to our trip to Turkey. You could have put us to work!

    Like

  4. Dragnfli says:

    You’re making me REALLY want an olive tree. To go with the pomegranate tree I already wanted.

    Liked by 2 people

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