I've always wanted to cure my own olives, but it's not every day that I spot fresh olives at the store. So I was thrilled to discover one sunny Saturday that the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market was selling bags of small, black Coratinas for $5, along with a recipe for curing olives. To make bitter and astringent fresh olives edible, there are two ways of preparing them: dry-curing them in salt, or wet-curing them in brine.
I went with the dry-curing method, and I wasn't let down. Although I'd opt for an olive with a greater meat-to-pit ratio next time, the recipe produced an intricate flavor that was sweet, salty, and buttery at the same time. Now that I know how easy it is to make my own, I'm hesitant to ever buy a can of olives from the supermarket again! See for yourself when you keep reading.
1 pound ripe olives (I used Coratinas)
4-6 cups kosher salt, depending on ripeness of olives
8 cloves garlic, peeled
2 fresh bay leaves
4 dried chile peppers
About 1-1/2 cups high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
- Wash olives, and remove any stems or leaves. Place in a colander and set colander inside a bowl. Spring 2 cups salt over the olives and stir well to coat. Cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel.
- The next day, add about 1/4 cup more salt and stir again. Drain any liquid in bottom of bowl. Cover again with towel.
- Repeat salting and stirring for at least one week. The process time will vary depending on the ripeness of the olives.
- After one week, taste an olive for texture and flavor. When ready, olives should be slightly wrinkled, soft, and devoid of any bitterness.
- When olives are free of bitterness and astringency, rinse them in cold water until free of salt, then shake dry.
- Place olives in a clean, pint-sized Mason jar. Add garlic, bay leaves, and chiles. Cover with olive oil. Seal with a new lid and band and leave for at least one week. (One month is better, but olives can be ready sooner.) Olives do not need to be refrigerated as long as they are submerged in olive oil. Use any leftover oil for salad dressing, bruschetta, or dipping.
Makes 1 pint jar of olives.
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