Guest Post 6: How to create award-winning olives

first place

When my lovely friend Claire Trolio of We Love Perth and Ruck Rover fame asked me to write a guest post, I said that I would love to – on the proviso that she also share her award-winning recipe for curing olives. I am very happy to report that she agreed to my cheeky request.

Some of you will be familiar with my earlier misadventures in curing. Claire, however, has managed to not only produce an edible product, but one that also won her first place at last year’s Perth Royal Show!

Thank you, Claire, for sharing your secrets – and for giving my 2013 olive harvest the chance to be more delicious.

H 🙂

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Recipe #139: How to create award-winning olives (without using caustic soda).
by guest blogger Claire Trolio

A few years ago I was lucky enough to move into a house with a thriving olive tree. Our Mediterranean climate makes Perth an excellent place to grow these beautiful plants, and they don’t need a lot of ongoing care either.

olives on branch

When it comes to turning their fruit into an edible form, however, they require a lot of attention. There are times in the preparation where I thought to myself, ‘this better be worth it’; crossing my fingers that nothing would go awry. But the work well and truly paid off. Last year we ended up with litres upon litres of delicious olives that won first place in the Olives category in the Perth Royal Show Cookery Competition!

It’s getting to the time when your olives will be ripe for the harvest. There’s a large window when this can happen, and when you choose to pick them will depend on what sort of olives you like. As a guide, I’d say when some of the green olives start turning black they’re ripe, but if you prefer more meaty, bitter olives you can pick them when they’re more immature, alternatively if you’re a black olive lover, then wait until you have a tree of plump, black fruit. For me, I got stuck in when the top quarter of the tree, the bit that’s in full sun, was full of black, juicy olives.

Picking the olives is relatively straightforward. Take them off one by one and place them into a bucket or a bag, being careful not to drop them from a great height. Although it might be tempting to shake the tree or gather them on the floor, doing that will bruise the olives and give them a bad taste.

Once they’ve been collected, it’s time for the laborious task of washing, slitting and separating the olives. Before you start, have some large, clean jars at the ready. Empty the olives into a large basin filled with water, but pour them in gently so as not to bruise them, of course. Take each olive one by one, cleaning it and removing any remaining stalks. Then take a sharp knife and make a slit in each olive all the way down to the pip. Many people recommend doing both sides, as it will assist in removing more bitterness, though I think one side is fine – at least it’s to my taste. Then place them into jars keeping black and green olives separate – this is because they have different soaking times. Fill each jar with water and place a small, sealed plastic bag filled with water on top of the olives to keep them submerged, and seal the jars. You don’t want the olives exposed to air while in there otherwise they’ll go mouldy. Store the olives away from direct sunlight and extreme heat.

Every day now you need to empty the water, rinse the olives and the jars, and return them to the jars with fresh water. It is normal for some scum to form at the top of the water each day. Repeat this process for 5 days for the black olives and 8-10 days for the green ones.

The next step needs to be done in two parts, once for the black olives then later for the green, but the process is the same. You need to make the brine, and to do so bring water and salt (about 1/3 cup to every litre of water) to the boil, stirring until the salt dissolves. Take it off the heat and let it cool.

Then rinse the olives with tap water for the final time. Sterilise the jar again before returning the olives to it and covering them with the cooled brine. This time we slowly poured in a layer of olive oil on the top, to keep the air from getting to the olives, and filled the jar to the brim. The olives need to soak like this for at least a couple of months and can remain in the brine for up to a year. There’s no need to refrigerate them, but keep them in a cool, dark place.

olives in jar

When they’re ready, grab out some olives and marinate them in whatever takes your fancy. Do it jar by jar, because once marinated the olives won’t keep that long – depending on what they are marinated in they will last about a month. The combination I keep returning to is: very thin slices of raw garlic, and lots of it; equal parts freshly squeezed lemon juice and olive oil; and a little sea salt.

I’d love to hear your olive stories! Claire.


Thanks again to Claire for her words of wisdom!

My guest posts typically get lots of clicks well after they are published – because I only choose talented & interesting people to write on A Very Foodly Diary! Check out previous guest posts via their links:

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Wow how beautiful are those Olives. I had visited 34 Degrees South Olive farm last weekend in Margaret River and came back with some lovely Olive Oil and Olive Oil soap at such steep prices. Love post 🙂

    1. Hannah says:

      Great to hear – and I will be sure to visit 34 Degrees next time I am in Margaret River.

      Claire’s success has inspired us to brine our own. Wish us luck!

      H 🙂

  2. I agree entirely with Claire. I recently met up with an old friend, who now runs a restaurant in Pennsylvania, whose home town is Kalamata, in Greece. He felt that the Perth climate was very similar to that of Kalamata, where, he assures me, the best olives in the world are grown!

  3. Mel says:

    I’ve just done a batch of HUGE black olives that hubby and a mate picked from a local park! This is my first time curing olives, can’t wait to see if they work out 🙂

    1. Hannah says:

      Just as I wish you well with your batch, Mel, I hope that ours turn out too. We had a great backyard harvest this year and followed Claire’s directions to the letter, hence we have very high expectations! Let me know how yours work out.

      H 🙂

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