Monday, March 21, 2011

Olive Curing

As part of preparing to launch our Adopt-A-Tree Program, I put together a booklet with the bits of information people ask about most:

History of the orchard
(Why is a Butte County grove called Berkeley Olive Grove?)
What . . . virgin?
EVOO recipes
How do you . . .
harvest? . . . mill?
Healthful olive curing

Today Darro, via Passionate Olive author Carol Firenze, met a chef / orchard owner / olive-curing-interested lady.
As I overheard Darro going through curing steps, I offered to copy a couple pages of information that I had gotten from him for the Adopt-A-Tree booklet and post to the Blog.

Fiat Oliva

Enzyme Rich Olive Curing Instructions by Dar

Greek Style Black Olives in Brine

Mature, fully colored (dark red to purplish black) Mission

Some of the olives coloring may fade during curing but they tend to darken again when

exposed to air. The finished product will have some fruity and bitter flavors.


1. Discard any bruised or defective fruit. Sort the olives according to size, if desired.

2. Pack the sorted olives into glass containers that can be made airtight.

3. Prepare medium brine with 8 ounces (3/4 cup) of sea salt per gallon of cool water.

4. Cover the olives with brine and close lids loosely. Store at about 60° to 80°F.

5. After 7 days, replace brine with a fresh batch of strong brine made with 1 pound (1 1/2 cups) of sea salt per gallon of water. Close the lids firmly. Store in brine for at least 2 months.

6. Check the containers at regular intervals. If gas pressure builds up during fermentation and causes the lids to bulge, carefully loosen the bulging lids to release the gas, and then firmly close them again. The gas is naturally produced by the bacteria that are responsible for the fermentation. If brine leaks out, replace it with fresh strong brine made with 1 pound (1 1/2 cups) of sea salt per 1 gallon of water.

Fairly bitter olives - eat olives after 2 months of storage.

Less bitter olives - store olives for at least 3 months before eating.

These Greek style black olives can be stored in the strong brine in a cool, dark place for at least 1 year if the jars remain airtight.

We use a layer of olive oil as an air barrier.

To avoid mold growth on the surface after opening, refrigerate any uneaten olives.

If you prefer less bitter olives, replace the brine with a fresh batch of strong brine at one month intervals for 2 or 3 months. Changing the brine more often will leach out more of the bitter oleuropein.

To reduce saltiness, soak the olives in water overnight before eating.

The recipe summary is taken from the University of California, Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources:

(The full recipe states "research on food preservation is ongoing. Recommendations may change. Make sure your food preservation information is always current. Always follow up-to-date, tested guidelines and recipes from reliable sources. 06/2007ANR Publication 8267").

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