It’s a keeper: how to preserve your own olives at home | Fruit

Italy is synonymous with the olive tree. As you progress additional south, these historical bushes attain up larger and better, their trunks changing into bigger and extra twisted.

Over the centuries, every distinctive kind has witnessed so many tales of hardship, pleasure, companionship, treachery, honour, love, hate, household struggles and successes. They inform us the entire historical past of Italy by the ages and underneath totally different masters.

On visits to Italy, I’ve walked by the groves in my dad and mom’ village in Varapodio and tried to think about what it was like for my mom and father earlier than they emigrated to Australia, working virtually as slaves underneath the feudal system, not figuring out from someday to the following whether or not they had work, and at all times underneath strain to feed their ever-growing household in a lovely however completely unforgiving countryside.

Wherever Italians have migrated, you can see olive bushes – admittedly, there aren’t any olives within the Arctic and Antarctic however we’re engaged on that! Throughout Australia, Italian properties are distinguishable by their distinctive mix of magnificence and pragmatism – the white balustrades, the brightly colored rendered fences, the shutter blinds, the fruit bushes out within the entrance backyard and, at all times, the olive tree within the nature strip.


There are some primary guidelines for preserving olives

  • At all times use recent, arduous and unbruised fruit.

  • Be sure all your utensils are clear. Don’t use copper, brass, iron or galvanised utensils, as it will trigger a chemical response with the
    olives and taint the flavour.

  • Be sure your containers for brining are clear, unchipped and created from non-reactive supplies: glass, chrome steel, enamelware, stoneware, porcelain, earthenware, terracotta or plastic.

  • At all times clear jars and lids earlier than use.

  • At all times fill your jars evenly and ensure the olives are fully submerged within the brine. If any olives are above the brine, they may
    flip brown and smooth and style mouldy.

  • At all times wipe the edges of the jars effectively to be sure that the seals are as
    tight as they are often.

  • The essential ratio for preserving olives in brine is 1kg of olives, 1L of water and 100g of salt.

Pietro Demaio with his home-made olives.
Pietro Demaio together with his home-made olives. {Photograph}: Plum

Olives might be ready for preserving in a variety of methods. The commonest are as follows.

Curing in caustic soda

The curing of inexperienced olives with lye (a dilute resolution of caustic soda) is widespread in central and northern Italy. There are various varieties and sizes of olives, every of which has a totally different oil content material.

The perfect varieties to use for this methodology are the sevillano (Spanish queen), ascolani and manzanillo. Manzanillo takes longer to remedy with lye. You want to be attentive to the focus of the lye as a result of whether it is too sturdy, the pores and skin of the olive is liable to blister. The perfect temperature for this course of is 18C to 29C, with the speed of curing growing with temperature. As soon as the olives are cured on this manner, they are often positioned in brine (see beneath).

Salt and water

The brine wants to be 100g salt per 1L of water. Historically, you add sufficient salt to the water to make an egg float – this will nonetheless be a helpful manner of gauging if the water is salty sufficient, although the measurements above ought to have you ever heading in the right direction.

To preserve olives in brine you additionally want acid (lemon or vinegar). The pickling time will differ relying on the olives’ dimension (longer for bigger), ripeness (inexperienced take longer than black) and selection: kalamata take up to three months and can at all times stay barely bitter, whereas verdale, frantoio and leccino take much less time and can style nuttier and fewer bitter.


Word that each one olives preserved in brine (salt, water and lemon or vinegar) will ferment within the jars – that is the curing course of. So if you open a jar after six to 12 weeks it’ll fizz, like a bottle of soda water. That is the carbon dioxide that has shaped throughout the fermentation course of – the olives haven’t gone off! As soon as opened, the olives might be saved within the fridge for months.

Vinegar and oil

Acid might be added through the use of vinegar quite than lemon, which is typical of Greek-style olives. Add 250ml of white wine vinegar for each 1L of brine and proceed as above. As soon as cured, retailer the olives within the brine or drain and fully cowl in extra-virgin olive oil, to which you’ll add flavourings reminiscent of dried oregano, chilli or fennel seeds.

Olives cured with caustic soda, the Abruzzi manner

Olive all’ Abruzzese

7 tbsp caustic soda
10kg arduous, recent inexperienced olives
(ideally the Spanish queen selection)
500g desk salt

Particular gear
3 litre plastic bucket
20 litre plastic bucket

Within the 3 litre bucket, slowly and really fastidiously combine one litre of water with the caustic soda. The caustic soda will warmth up, so keep effectively away. Dilute the caustic soda resolution by pouring it into the 20 litre bucket with one other 14 litres of water.

Add the olives and blend effectively. The olives want to be stirred each hour for the primary couple of hours. After a interval of 10–24 hours, the olives will choose the underside of the bucket and there shall be none floating on the floor. The olives at the moment are cured. Very fastidiously pour off the caustic soda resolution, then fill the bucket with recent water.

A reddish pink liquid will come out of the olives. Hold altering the water day by day for
a additional six to seven days till the water turns into clear and is not pink.

At this stage, the olives are prepared to place in brine. If the olives are usually not washed correctly of caustic soda resolution, they’re probably to have a barely soapy style to them. Distribute the olives amongst clear jars.

In a giant stockpot, combine the salt with 5 litres of water and convey to boiling level, then take away from the warmth. Boiling the brine sterilises the water and prevents any mould from forming that will spoil the olives. Pour the new brine over the olives, guaranteeing they’re fully submerged however there may be nonetheless a 2cm hole at the highest of the jars.

Seal; the jars will seal hermetically as they cool. Retailer in a cool, darkish place for six weeks earlier than consuming. The olives will preserve for up to two years unopened. As soon as opened, retailer within the fridge, the place they may preserve for up to six months.

Olives in brine

Olive in salamoia

That is my examine Frank’s recipe, following the extra conventional methodology for inexperienced olives in southern Italy, which is to pickle them in brine. Guarantee your olives are good – arduous and inexperienced throughout. The perfect selection to use are Spanish queens, if you will get them.

100g desk salt
1kg arduous, recent inexperienced olives
2 garlic cloves, peeled and left complete
2 small inexperienced jalapeno chillies, left complete
2 slices of lemon
1 tsp fennel seeds
(or wild fennel flowers, when you have them obtainable)

Make a brine by bringing the salt and 1 litre of water to the boil in a giant stockpot. In case you want extra brine, add 100 g of desk salt for each 1 litre of water.

Distribute the olives between two giant clear jars. Add a garlic clove and chilli to every jar, then place a lemon slice on high. If in case you have entry to wild fennel flowers, place a few of those on high too. They not solely add flavour but additionally assist to preserve the olives submerged within the brine, thus stopping discoloration. Alternatively, you would add fennel seeds for a similar flavour.

Pour the nonetheless scorching brine over the olives, guaranteeing they’re fully submerged however there may be nonetheless a 2cm hole at the highest of the jars. Seal. Because the brine cools, it’ll seal the jars hermetically to forestall the brine from creating a mould and to preserve the olives agency. Retailer in a cool, darkish place for six months earlier than consuming. The olives will preserve for up
to two years unopened. As soon as opened, retailer within the fridge, the place they may preserve for up
to six months.


Preserving the Italian Way cover
Preserving the Italian Manner, by Pietro Demaio. {Photograph}: Plum

Some recipes suggest you first soak the olives in a bucket of water, altering the water day by day for 3 days. This produces a barely sweeter finish outcome. It’s also possible to add sliced celery or further lemon slices to differ the flavour. I personally like the unique recipe.

  • That is an edited extract from Preserving The Italian Way by Pietro Demaio, Revealed by Plum, RRP $39.99, Images by Chris Middleton

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