Last year when Enzo picked our olives, all but one jar went into making olive oil. I spent days trying to find information about the best way to preserve them and quite frankly hit a brick wall! It all looked far too complicated.
Well today we are here to tell you that preserving freshly picked olives is NOT, I repeat NOT complicated at all and I discovered this by opening the only jar that I preserved from last years crop and carrying a single fruit to Enzo.
“The skins are a bit tough, but … ummmm, they’re good!”
Enzo is our chief taster and an expert in all things edible that are made in Italy, so when he says they are good, they must be. Without hesitation I was getting down to the business of preserving this years crop.
You may have noticed from the photo above that they don’t look very black but when you’re growing organic and pickling on the edge, your fruits and vegetables won’t have that shiny, polished uniform look that you find in the supermarkets.
Olives have a ‘one year on, one year off’ growing cycle and this year was their year off. That is not to say that there were no olives at all, just not enough to squeeze into bottles for Enzo’s extra virgin olive oil. However, Enzo had managed to pick enough to fill one large basket with our pretty, black Gaeta olives (plus a few green ones – but who cares).
The first thing we did was to pour them into a sink of cold water with 8 oz of salt dissolved into it. Salt is ones of natures best sanitizers, so we left them there to cleanse overnight.
This morning I drained and rinsed them, removing any stems, leaves and other debris. It was time to sort through my vast collection of jars and bottles that I keep under the stairs and which have already been sanitized. I’ve been collecting them throughout the year and it turns out that I have quite a few crates full!
We always have a few tins of black olives in the kitchen for making tapenade, so I’ve taken a photograph of the ingredients for you to see it’s simply olives, water and salt. I have no idea what gluconato ferroso is and therefore didn’t use it. I poured the olives amongst the jars and filled them to just below the top. Meanwhile, in a bowl I have salt dissolving in our local mountain water to form a brine.
While we were collecting donations for Aulla from Giulia at the Da Giotto restaurant in Ameseno, we had a discussion about the best water to use for preserving olives. It seems that your choice of water is fundamental. Tap water often contains calcium and this will just not do. Many Italians who live in the rural areas will seek out the nearest tap dispensing fresh mountain water and this is considered to be the best water for preserving olives, and indeed making pizza dough too.
For the brine : 1 part salt – 2.5 parts water
I made up only 8 oz of salt to water at a time, not being sure of how much I would need. Once the salt is completely dissolved you can pour it over your olives. You’ll notice that they float to the top and a couple of them won’t be totally submerged. Don’t panic – here’s a little tip for you. Take some clingfilm, bunch it up and place it over the top of the olives pushing them down into the brine.
Now put a lid on them, tap the bottoms of the jars gently on the counter to bring any air bubbles to the surface, then store your olives somewhere cool and dark (in our case under the stairs). Relax and forget about them until next year.