There are several ways to cure your own fresh olives. Water curing, salt curing, dry curing and brine curing.
It all began when my neighbour took the sad-looking olive tree from their backyard and planted it on the median strip in our street. It seems to love its new position, as it fruited really well last season. I was coming home from work one afternoon and, when I turned the corner, heard my neighbour say “Here comes John”, asking if they could use my height to pick the black olives in the upper branches. In total, the harvest came to well over a kilogram and I was pretty chuffed when I was offered some of them.
After a little research, I went with the brine curing method. Each olive is sliced twice before the brining begins. The next part is the waiting, as mine took over a month to cure. For the actual marinade, the flavour combinations are completely up to you. I went with some Moroccan flavours, as some of the best olives I’ve eaten were from the large vats of an olive providore in Essaouira’s old town, on Morocco’s Atlantic coastline.
Recipes where I used olives –
Wash and drain the olives well. Using a sharp knife, cut two slits along the length of each olive, making sure not to cut to the pit. Place the olives into a container that is big enough to just contain them.
Fill the container with water and add the ½ cup of sea salt. Stir until dissolved and make sure the olives are submerged. Use a small plate to weigh them down, if you need to.
The olives need to cure for a few weeks (mine took 4 weeks), and give them a bit of a shake once or twice a week. Also, change the brine with fresh salt water every week. This process basically helps leach the bitterness from the olives. Taste an olive for bitterness. If it’s still quite bitter, continue with the brining process. It can take several more weeks!
Once the curing has been done, drain the olives well and mix with the lemon zest, garlic, fennel seeds, coriander, paprika, fig, cinnamon, salt and vinegar. Put the olive mixture into jars and top with water. Pour over a thin layer of olive oil and allow to marinate in the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks before eating.