Time to harvest olives goes from late August through November at any stage from totally green not mature to fully ripened. The stage of the harvest depends on whether the olives will be used for eating or oil production. Olives for eating are handpicked to avoid bruising. Olives cannot be eaten directly from the tree, they are very, very bitter and very unpleasant. The first thing to do is curing them using various methods for each type of olives. The most effective curing method is using lye, good for large, fleshy green olives such as Spanish Manzanilla, Italian Bella di Cerignola and the Queen green olives, which are often stuffed with garlic.
Curing Green Olives
Dissolve 0.7 oz. of lye in warm water for each 2.2 lbs of olives. Place the olives in a large plastic bucket or stainless steel pot, add the water with dissolved lye, cover with tap water to the top. Leave them to cure for 2 days, mixing every so often using kitchen gloves and a long wood spoon or stick. After this time, rinse the olives with clean water many times and leave them again in a clean water for 24 hours. After this time, change water one more time, add 3.5 oz. of salt for each 2.2 lbs. of olives. Place the olives and the salty water in glass jars (only glass) with air tight lids and store in a dark cool place. They will be ready for consumption after two weeks and will keep up to two years, but once the jar is open, you must consume it.
Curing Black Olives
Black olives must be large and mature. Put them in a large plastic container filled with water and with a lid that will close tightly. Add 4.5 oz. of salt for each 2.2 lbs of olives, stir well and leave it to macerate for one year in a cool place. Stir every so often during the year.
Curing With A Brine
The elongated green olives are the best to cure in a brine. The round green olives become sweet only when they are mature, or if they are left in the sun to dry with lot of salt. Add 3.5 oz. of salt to each 34 fluid oz of water, place the olives in this brine and leave to macerate for one month. Rinse the olives and make a new brine with 2.8 oz. of salt for each 34 fluid oz. of water. Dump the olives in the new brine, they will be ready in a month.
To accelerate the process without the brine, make small cuts to each olive, put them in a large colander with lot of salt and leave to drain for 3-4 days. In a large pot bring water to a boil with a couple of peeled garlic heads, throw all the olives in it and bring the water to a boil again for about 10 minutes. Fill glass jars with water and olives while the water is still warm. Close with an airtight lid. With this method the olives are ready to eat right away.
Some Health Talk
Olives contain the good elements our body needs for a natural and nutritional diet: fat, proteins and minerals.
Olives have a therapeutic effect on the liver as they help drainage, help with constipation and have a beneficial effect on colitis.
Eat olives to get just as good proteins as meat but without the animal fat. Thus olives consumed every day with a mixed salad, whole wheat bread and a glass of red wine constitute really a good balanced nutrition.
After curing olives comes the pleasure of eating them. I am including one typical recipe from Puglia, Italy, not even well-known anywhere else in Italy and which I have included also in my book ©Come Mia Nonna-A Return To Simplicity.
Pan Fried Black Olives With Peanuts
1/2 lb. of pitted black olives in water not treated (olives in t he can OK)
a hand full of raw peanut shelled
2 tablespoons of olive oil
a hand full of finely chopped Italian parsley
salt, black pepper or chilli pepper to taste
Drain the water out of the olives, pat them dry.
In a frying skillet sauté the peanuts in olive oil at medium fire, for about fifteen minutes or until they are golden brown.
Take them out the pan and drain the excess oil on paper towel.
In the same pan sauté the olives until they become crinkled.
Drain the oil, mix with the peanuts.
Season with salt and black pepper or chilli peppers if you like them hot. Sprinkle parsley finely chopped.
Be generous with the condiments.
Serve warm as an appetizer.
If you have food questions, or questions on kitchen design I shall be here to answer them all and I shall be ready to find the best solutions for you, just leave your name down below in the box. Ciao,
Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn unattractive spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms and entertainment rooms. She is the author of two published books of Italian regional cuisine, available in this site at the Books page and on: