Ilivetolearn's Blog

October 21, 2005

olives

Filed under: food/groceries,Spain — ilivetolearn @ 10:17 am

We are lucky enough to have an olive tree in the backyard, and not only is it beautiful, with its silvery leaves blowing in the breeze, but it also actually bears fruit! We’ve been watching the olives get bigger and bigger and turn from green to black, and reading up on the internet how to cure them. The only problem was that they were far out of reach. One weekend when Elliot came home he put Margo on his shoulders and she picked enough for me to start messing with the first batch (something has to replace my harvest-season activities of tomato-canning and jam-making). I chose to do the brine-curing rather than the dry cure because I didn’t have the slatted wooden box and cheesecloth required for the latter. Where are all those clementine containers when I need them?

The brine cure involves successive immersions in fresh water, salted water, vinegar, and finally oil, vinegar, and seasonings. Each phase lasts five to ten days and requires daily stirring. We are now anxiously awaiting Nov. 1 when they will allegedly be ready to eat. Meanwhile, many more ripened and I took to whacking the branches with a long metal pipe that happened to be in the yard. Some fell, but I ended up sending Margo into the tree while I stood on a precarious brick ledge (part of the garden wall) and bent branches down to her so she could reach the stubborn ones. I now have another pound or so to torture into palatability.

Store-bought olives are cheap and delicious and the varieties fill at least six feet of shelf space even in the smallest stores. Our favorite so far is anchovy-stuffed green olives. I very much doubt that the home-cured ones will compete…but if they turn out well I will be frustrated that our tree produces relatively few. Then again, I have my eye on a heavily-laden tree in an apartment courtyard between here and the American School. Margo and I could make a visit under cover of darkness and jack a few kilos…

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