Not all our olives are destined for the press. Some are set aside to preserve. Until now, I’ve used the brine method as explained by Patience Gray in “Honey From A Weed”:
- Wash the olives and soak them in glazed jars for 40 days.
- Change the water every two days. This removes any bitterness.
- Drain and place in jars with alternate layers of coarse sea salt. (About two handfuls of salt for every three kilos of olives.)
- Fill jars to the brim and top up with water.
- They will keep for two years if stored in a cool, dark place.
This year I tried the salt version that both my neighbour L. and Over A Tuscan Stove swear by:
- Rinse the olives and pat dry.
- Put in jars, alternating olives with coarse sea salt.
- Drain the water from the jars every day.
- They are ready when no more water comes out.
- Fill jars to the brim and top up with the very best olive oil.
I think this recipe is better than the brine version and I’ll be making them the same way next year. However, I’d make more because they’d reduced by half in volume by the time they were ready. (They didn’t reduce nearly as much using the brine method.)
You can play with either method by adding spices, garlic, orange/lemon peel, etc. Personally, I don’t think they need any frills. The olives are more than capable of taking centre stage without any assistance.