I really get it now how people can become so passionate about olives. The trees are so graceful, so bountiful, and the fruits so incredibly malleable. There’s a certain magic in the way the fruits transform from being so bitter on the tree to so delightful and infused with whatever flavours they are processed and preserved with.
This year we harvested eight kilos of olives off our six year old Manzanillo olive tree, and a kilo or so off our Kalamata olive tree. Our Manzanillo tree has been going so well, we recently planted two more on our nature strip.
There so many different ways of processing olives on a small scale. After rinsing ours in water, we sterilised some 2 litre jars and made a solution of salty water that was salty enough to make an egg float (at least 10% salt). We then packed the olives into the jars, poured in the salty water and packed some slices of lemon on top to stop the olives from floating up to the top and potentially spoiling.
We’re following the Milkwood style of processing them which is about letting time do the work and leaching out the bitterness, rather than us having to do more work and use more resources by changing the solution more frequently. We’ll check on them once a month to see how they’re going and they should be ready in 4-5 months. Then we can begin the fun of adding in other herbs and flavours. Milkwood has some more great info about small scale olive picking.
Have you ever pickled olives, or does your family have a traditional process they use? Do you have a favourite way to marinate your olives?