Mediterranean-Style Cracked Olives

        
          A few weeks ago, I began a project of home-curing olives.  Step 1 was to crack each one with a meat mallet and then soak them in water, drained daily, until they reached a palatable level of bitterness.  Part of the art of olive making, I discovered, is finding the perfect stage at which to stop the water bath.  I tasted an olive on day 8 and spat it into the sink.  Too bitter, still.  Then I tasted one on day 10 and uh oh, it tasted a little watery to me, a little washed out which I read can happen.  I quickly drained them at that moment and decided to go ahead with the brine to see what would happen.  For approximately 2 kgs. of fresh olives, I used the following formula for the brine:

1 liter of cool water
1/3  cup rock sea salt (or Kosher salt)
1/4  cup white wine vinegar
            Make a solution of these ingredients and pour over olives that have been packed into sterilized containers.  It is at this point that you can also add herbs and other seasonings.  I added whole garlic cloves, cuttings of fresh rosemary, and pink peppercorns.  If lemons were ready yet, I would have added a few bits of those.  The olives can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator, for around six months.  
I think I’m OK with the washed out issue.  Once they were out of water and into a brine, the flavor came back up and they taste really good to me.  I’m sure the flavor will continue to develop complexity the longer they marinate in the brine.  Next time, I might simply slice each olive rather than smash them.  Most of the olives are in tact, but some of them have broken pieces that make my jars look a little bit cloudy.  For a first attempt, I’m happy and I also know how these olives were handled and stored so I have confidence in their sanitation.

2 thoughts on “Mediterranean-Style Cracked Olives

  1. We just had them with our cannelloni dinner tonight. After two weeks in the brine, they are fantastic. I'm really glad I tried my own. They have more flavor from the herbs and garlic than most purchased olives and don't just taste like salt.

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