Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How to Cure Olives

My morning ritual starts with dropping off 6 of my 7 children off at school. This starts with the countdown. We are leaving in ten minutes! Which usually means we will be out of the driveway in 20. My kids go to three different schools with in about a 5 mile radius. Its a bit crazy but at the end theres a peaceful 10 minutes with my oldest son.

He goes to a charter school that has taken up residence in an old shopping mall movie theater. I never noticed until yesterday that the parking lot is brimming with olive trees that are packed with big fat black olives!

Well I am totally in love with olives and not one to let a good olive go to waste I got permission to pick. My to my children's horror I perched myself on top of our mini van with a plastic bucket left over from Halloween emblazoned with Frankenstein and got to picking!

There was some whining with the typical phrase, "Are you done yet?" Yet only my 8 year old, who loves to climb up into trees, was eager to help. So we picked and picked until I came away with 3 gallons of olives! Yeay me!

The first thing your going to want to do is wash your olives. Put them in a big bowl and cover them with clod water. Gently run your fingers through them and stir them up. The leaves and stems will rise to the top and you can scoop those out.

Lacto Cured Kalamata Style Olives 

2 Lemons (Organic)
2 cups Sea Salt
Olive Oil (How much will depend on your container. You need need enough to cover the tops of you olives)

Next your going to need a very large jar with a lid. I choose a big 2.5 gallon glass jar that I used for making kombucha. Make sure its not one your going to need for a while because it is going to take a couple months to cure your olives! You want your jar large enough to fill to the top with your olives, but not too big that you have a lot of space for them to float.

Next mix your water with the salt. You will want about 3/4 a cup of salt to every gallon. The way to tell if you have enough salt is that a fresh egg will float in the water. If it doesn't float a bit more salt until it does. You will notice my water is a little cloudy, this settles down after the olives are packed.

Cut your lemons into wedges.

Now we are ready to go! Toss in a couple lemons and then start filling with olives. About 1/2 way through throw in a few more slices of lemons and keep filling with olives. Toss in your remaining lemons in the top and finish with a few more olives until your about 2 inches from the top of the jar. Fill the jar with your salted water stopping when you have covered your olives.

Lastly cover the top with olive oil. this will help keep your lives fresh and keep them from getting slimy and nasty. Every day stir or shake your olives and every week you will drain and replace the salt water and olive oil for a month. Changing the brine more frequently will leach out more of the bitter oleuropein.

After one month taste test your olives. If they are still too bitter soak them another week. If you like the taste move on to the final brine.

Final Brine

1 Gallon Water
1 1/2 cup salt
4 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Head of Garlic, peeled
Olive Oil

In a large pitcher or bowl mix the water, salt, and vinegar.
  With your palm crush garlic cloves.

Add a 4-6 cloves of garlic per quart jar. Pack olives to sterilized jars leaving 1 inch space. Cover with brine solution.  Top with olive oil until olives are covered. Allow the olives to sit in this solution for one month before use. Do not use if mold develops.

These olives will store will in a fridge for up to a year.