Brine Curing Olives

Olives in bowl
Olives in bowl

I’ve been curing olives for a few years now. It used to be easier when living in Toronto. It was merely a quick walk to the local fruit market, which thankfully the city is still rich with, to buy a bag of raw olives. Now living in Cobble Hill,  it’s much more difficult to find fresh olives, as they’re not available locally.

Fortunately for me, I was headed to Vancouver on family business last week. I called Bosa Foods, the only place I’ve found reasonably close (a mere 4 hours away by ferry and car) where one can buy them, and was told that they had just received their annual shipment of green olives (black ones will come a bit later in the season, sometime next month).

I made sure to pick up two 10k bags, as last year the single bag I’d bought had been barely enough for our own annual use, and didn’t allow for any gifts (or product for my farm stand). To be sure of maximum freshness and quality, I began to prepare them the minute I got home.

Soaking Olives
Soaking Olives

The first stage of curing involves leaching the tannins out to reduce the natural bitterness of the olive fruit, the second is brining them, either in a wet or dry cure. These instructions are for wet cure, I’ll try dry cure when I get the dark olives next month and write about that process as they progress.

There are several pages online with instructions for how to wet cure olives, some of which suggest using lye, a caustic solution, to soften the olives prior to bringing. There are also instructions for using merely water, which struck me as wiser and which in practice, yields excellent olives.

I’ve seen instructions for whacking them with a mallet, which I tried once, and shan’t be attempting again. Not only did the mallet recoil and almost hit me in the forehead at least twice, but the olives when cured, were bruised. Meh.

Slicing Olives
Slicing Olives

The Greek method, slicing them on either side lengthwise, is perfect…but have the water bath ready to pop them into immediately, or you will have badly oxidized slashes on either side, as this happens very quickly…as I learned last year. That would have been a bigger problem if I’d had enough to give away, so I guess it was just as well that I made fewer then.

So, all that said, this is easy peasy. Get olives, fill a jug with water (I use a party drinks dispenser with spigot, so that it’s easier to empty each day, as the water needs to be refreshed daily). Slice olives into water bath. Change water daily, after one week add brine and leave to age for a month in a loosely covered jar or crock, stirring daily if possible. Put a weight (like a plate) on the top to keep them submerged, or they will go mouldy and infect the batch.

Olives in jars
Olives in jars

Use a 1:10 (10%) salt:water ratio. If you have kids and want to amuse them with science, test the density of the solution by floating an egg on top. If it floats, you have enough salt. If not, add more.

It will be another few days before I am ready to brine the current batch, for which I’ll use seawater which has been evaporating to about 1:6 and boil it down to the required density…mainly because I live at the beach and a local salt company uses the same spot to draw from, so why not? I’ll report back when these are done to brag about how great they taste. I’ll report back when they’re ready. Maybe with a recipe for tapenade.

Philly’s Easy Kim Chi

Recipe and photos by Philly Markowitz

Finished Kimi Chi w/Rice
Finished Kimi Chi w/Rice

This is a non-traditional recipe for those who don’t have easy access to dried shrimp or don’t want to use it. It makes about 3.5 litres –
if you have a glass gallon jar it will be the perfect size to hold the batch.

As the recipe makes a gallon, it’s great for hostess gifts and parties. Or, you can change the number of servings on the selector below, and the site will automatically divide the recipe for you.

Dead Easy Dills – Kosher Style

Kosher Dills
Kosher Dills

These are those crisp pickles that snap in your mouth. Crunchy because they are uncooked, making them the hands-down easiest pickles you can make.

You need a saucepan, cheesecloth, jars, or a crock, and the ingredients. Maybe a funnel if you’re using jars. It takes about 15 minutes top to bottom if you use ice cubes instead of cold water.

I have a thing for alliteration, so could not resist putting dill in the title, but fennel is a nice alternative.

Aging them for 2 days makes them what is called “half-sour”, aging for 4 or more days is called: “full sour”.

Note that the longer you age the pickles, the more yeast will form on the top. Try to skim it off, as this will affect the pickle taste. It’s perfectly safe though and a natural part of the kosher pickle.

If the yeast weirds you out, then stop aging the pickles at two days.