how-to-brine-olives

Curing Olives at Home with Brine

If you love olives and have ever picked one fresh from a tree and popped it into your mouth, you have learned the hard way that fresh olives are extremely bitter and inedible. In order to make olives tasty and good for eating, they must be cured. One of the easiest and safest way of curing olives is by using the salt brine methods.

Types of Olives You Can Cure with Brine

Not all olives can be cured using the salt brine method. Larger varieties, such as the Seville olive, usually require curing using lye.

Olive varieties that can be cured using brine include:

  • Manzanillo
  • Mission
  • Kalamata

Harvesting Olives for Curing with Brine

There is no such thing as green or black olive varieties. The color of a cured olive is due to the stage of development when it is harvested.

All olives start out green in color and then slowly become dark purple or black as they increase in ripeness. You can brine olives at any stage – green, yellow-green, or dark color stage.

The harvest season for olives is between October and December, depending on the variety, local conditions, and whether you want green or black olives when they are cured.

How to Brine and Marinate Olives

Harvest the olives carefully to avoid bruising them. Sort them and discard any that have signs of insect damage, then wash them in cold water.
Make a slit in each olive going lengthwise from top to bottom, but do not cut into the pit. This helps the brine enter the interior of the olive and speeds up curing.

The materials you need to brine olives are:

  • Non-iodized salt
  • Glass jars with tight-fitting lids
  • A large saucepan
  • 1 raw egg, in the shell
  • A large spoon

Fill the saucepan with water and add about ½ cup (120 milliliters) of salt and mix together with the spoon. Then place the raw egg into the water. If the egg floats, you have enough salt. If the egg sinks, add more salt until it starts floating.

Put the washed olives into the jar and add the brine. A jar with a narrow mouth makes it easier to keep all of the olives submerged in the solution, or, weight them down.

Put the jar in a cool, dark place and replace the brine with a fresh solution each week. After three to four weeks, test an olive to see if it is still bitter. If there is still a bitter flavor, put them back into fresh brine for another week.

When the bitter flavor has disappeared, you can put the olives in a solution of vinegar, olive oil, water, garlic, and herbs and allow them to marinate to develop more flavor. Store cured olives in the refrigerator.