Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Olive harvest

From March to May olives slowly turn from green to black and this year Monica's tree has a bumper crop with branches bending low under the weight of fruit. The tree has been allowed to grow un-pruned for years as its main purpose in life is to provide summer shade from the fierce western sun and add atmosphere to a wonderful Italianate Sydney garden. The last time I pickled the olives from this tree the fruit had bruised as I had collected them as windfall and the resulting olives were too soft and only really good for making tapenade. This year the arborist was at work in the garden and he gently lowered the laden branches to the ground so I could hand pick them.
Patience is the key to successful pickling it seems. Last time I added too much salt when processing them which I didn't seem to wash off properly. Reading Maggie Beer's approach to preserving olives in her book Maggie's Farm has given me an incite into what can go wrong and it seems even the experts can have failures. So in about 6 weeks time and many changes of water later I might have some nice olives to share around.


  1. Hi Ian, thanks for your comment on my post today! As for the olives, here's how I prepare them, as quick as possible: three vertical cuts on each olive, place them in water (preferably bottled, no chlorine), change the water everyday for about 9 days.
    After that, and in order to add the correct amount of salt to the new water to put the olives again, put a fresh egg on that water and start dissolving salt; if the egg is fresh, it will sink, and keep on adding salt, and stirring the water, until it surfaces. This will tell you that you have enough salt. Then, put some lemon slices, crushed garlic clovers and some bay leaves. This is a very ancient recipe, and I keep using it every year. A couple of days later the olives should be ready to eat. Suggestion to serve them: mix some olive oil and ground chilli pepper and garlic. Enjoy!!

  2. Thanks very much for your recipe and taking the time to leave a comment. I will definitely try this method.