When we moved to a new home in the Arizona desert last year, I had no idea that the tree in our backyard was a fruiting olive! Olive trees are popular ornamentals in the Phoenix area, but fruiting varieties are restricted from planting in several Arizona counties due to the allergens they create when flowering. Crazy, right? Who wouldn’t want a beautiful tree loaded with healthy fruit like olives!
Armed with a bucket of olives and my handy google finger, I found full instructions from the University of California at Davis for home curing of olives using brine and it was a long but surprisingly straight forward process.
I started with freshly picked, fully colored rather than green olives.
After washing them well, I scored each with a clean, sharp knife and loaded them into a plastic, one gallon food grade container.
I made a medium strength brine with 3/4 cup of pickling salt to a gallon of water and covered the olives, using an upside down saucer and weight to hold all the olives under the brine.
After one week, I drained the olives and covered them with a strong brine made with 1 and 1/2 cups pickling salt to a gallon of water.
I then drained and covered the olives with a fresh batch of strong brine every couple weeks for two months. I soaked them in fresh water, (keeping them in the refrigerator), for a couple weeks, changing the water every few days to reduce the saltiness.
Finally, I covered them with a 10% brine/seasoned marinade. After a couple weeks they were absolutely delicious!
Although I’m not sure it’s necessary, I kept mine refrigerated after curing.
I’ve shared my marinade recipe here, but also am including full instructions for curing, and making a brine so if you have some olives you’d like to cure you can decide which method works best for you and put your own spin on it!
3 parts of 10% brine
1 part 5% acetic acid (I used red wine vinegar)
splash of lemon juice
in each quart jar: 1 tsp garlic chopped, 1/4 tsp red pepper (new mexico), 1/2 tsp italian seasoning, 1/4 cup extra virgin cold pressed olive oil. Then pour mixture above over to cover olives, tighten lids and refrigerate.