Wednesday, October 21, 2009

a piece on olives

This weekend the Festival of the Olive will be held at Elizabeth Farm (70 Alice St. Rosehill) as part of the Sydney International Food Festival. This is an Historic Houses Trust property and home to the oldest European olive tree in Australia. My own attempts at preserving olives have been less then successful. The last lot were a bit soft and way too salty but the many jars I produced have been ok to use in cooking. The olive variety I used probably was an oil producing one rather than a table variety.
My favourite kinds are the tiny intensely flavoured French Provencal type added to a
salade nicoise and the all purpose Greek Kalamata especially for making tapenade.
Olive trees are easy to grow and their brilliant silvery leaves look wonderful silhouetted against a clear blue sky. They need a mild wet winter (not too frosty) and a scorching hot summer for best fruit production but are adaptable to city gardens especially ones where there is rocky soil or lots of reflection from paved surfaces. Pruning to keep the tree low makes picking easier or they can be let go to form a tree with a nice rounded crown. Fertilize after the crop has been harvested with some compost or blood and bone. Don't expect a crop every year, the norm is about 18 months apart, and flower pollination can be affected if rain occurs at fruit set time.
Australia produces lots of good olives and olive oil so buy local where possible.
Olive flowers

Olive drawing by Koehler from 1887

The perfect bowl of Kalamata olives

1 comment:

  1. Ian... Olives have be a weakness all of my life. I think it is the natural saltiness and full flavor. That bowl of Kalamata olives is calling out for a Salad Nicoice next to it.

    The food festival sounds like a great event at the Historic Trust house. Hope you will post some photographs. Cheers!