Monday, December 20, 2010

Our Olive Adventure Part 2: Pit and Soak

Part 1 challenged you to find olives.  The first step toward making your fresh olives into tasty, edible olives is to remove the oleuropein, an extremely bitter compound.  It's a miracle anyone figured out that olives are edible.  I challenged my poor, innocent, son to try one of the raw olives, and he swore he would never eat my olives and there was nothing I could do to make them tasty (see video below).  We'll just see about that!


My friends' mom says that the minimum time it takes to get tasty olives is about four years.  I've come across a few options for speeding up the process.  You can crack olives with a mallet or stone, like Sarah of FoodBridge or slit them open with a knife.  I chose to try pitting my olives.  I haven't seen anyone do this.  I'm not sure if it will lead to mushy olives, or if it is just considered less gourmet, but I happen to own a cherry pitter, which was itching for some excersise this winter.  I have tried to use it on olives from a can, and it works much better on firm, raw olives.



My pitted olives began in a baking soda bath.  I used 4 tablespoons of baking soda per cup or 1/4 liter of water. 



The video cut out, but I went on to pour some water and baking soda into the tall jar, put the olives in, fill the jar to the top with the solution, then shove in a silicone cupcake/muffin cup to keep the olives submerged.  I covered the jar loosely and changed the solution four times over a week.  After that I switched to plain water, which I changed every other day.  The olives are currently still in plain tap water while I wait for an opportunity to buy more salt.  (I used all my salt for curing my black olives.)

Tomorrow I plan to transfer the olives to a brine in small jars using Sarah's curing method.  I've done a lot of research, and her formula seems the best for my purpposes.  However, I'm not interested in having spicy olives, so at least for the time being, I'm going to stick to just salt and vinegar.  Stay tuned!

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