What about the olives?

by on October 11, 2010 · 10 comments

in Culture, Environment

olivesby Olive Guy

What about the olives I asked? No one knew what to say. Our front yard has two large olive trees, each with weighted down branches, full of black and green oval fruit – and every shade in between. In fact, one large branch was so heavy, it cracked and dangled close to the ground. Both trees had begun to shed its fruit – that ancient delicacy.

I wanted to harvest the dozens, no hundreds of olives that were ripening and wasting their lives by falling to the hard earth below, where they would become mashed down with everything else.  But no one else in the house either liked olives that much or knew what to do with them.  And hundreds – maybe thousands – were still left – connected to the thin branches, with all their potential still residing within their acerbic outer skin.

Filling up one large pot with them, I turned to a few friends, to see what I should do with them.  One friend said collect them in jars and fill the jars with red vinegar.  Another friend promised to get back.  Most recipes for olive harvesting required drastic amounts of lye – needed to apparently leech out the nasty, bitterness.

There must be a better way, I cried!

Olives have been harvested for thousands of years – they were present with Adam and Eve in the Garden. The Greeks, Romans, Palestinians – all knew what to do with olives.  Somebody must know how to make them edible.

Do you have a recipe for harvesting and prepping olives? You must!  Please let me know, as I don’t want to waste them.  And are there differences in how to treat black olives vs green ones? What if they’re already wrinkled?

Help me with how to treat these guys. Puleeese!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

annagrace October 11, 2010 at 11:24 am

Good luck with your olive crop! This link has some alternatives to the lye curing process, and explains the difference between green and black.


oliveguy October 11, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Annagrace, thanks, checked out that site (see comment) but all the recipes use either lye or salt or some kind of combination. I’m looking for a non-lye, non-salt recipe to cure olives.


Frank Gormlie October 11, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Readers: please help Olive Guy out – who has non-lye recipe to cure olives?


oliveguy October 11, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Most recipes I’ve seen – including those kindly sent by annagrace – use either lye or salt (or brine) or some kind of combination. I have one recipe that is very low on specifics about using red vinegar and spices, bottling the olives for 2 to 3 weeks.


Sarah October 13, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Dear Olive Guy,

Your post struck a long buried memory. I suddenly remembered my mom bemoaning the following while gazing at our prolific olive tree.

“There must be a better way!”

Deep in the back of the closet, in a dusty old shoebox, in a pile of recipe cards, newpaper clippings and assorted other things I can’t bear to part with, I found the recipe clipped from the Tucson Daily Citizen, probably in about 1971.

I’ve emailed a scan of it to the OBRag editors and hopefully they will be able to post it or email it on to you.

I don’t remember how the olives tasted. Let me know, ok?



Sarah October 13, 2010 at 3:27 pm

the recipe does have salt…. just noticed you’re looking for non-salt as well… sorry


oliveguy October 13, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Sarah, thanks anyways, I want to look at that recipe. Hopefully the editors of this here blogo will share it with me (I know they will – I know them too well), so thanks for digging that scrap out of your mildewed closet. Any other memories jilted?


Sarah October 13, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Yeah, Olive Guy… many

My mom was an amazing cook and kept scraps and notes in this box but apparently she also cleaned off her desk into it at some points ’cause I fould lots of hand-written directions, some phone numbers and a birthday card I sent her when I was a recalcitrant teenager. It’s got a picture of Frankenstien’s Monster on the front and inside it reads, “Don’t try to understand me, just love me”

*wipin’ a tear*


judi October 15, 2010 at 8:57 am

Hi, Olive Guy. Many years ago we had an olive tree and I swore that someday I cure the olives. Well, needless to say, I didn’t and had the tree removed because the fruit kept dropping into the pool. But…I did save the recipe. I can’t vouch for it, but…

Prep Time:
1 Hr
Ready In:
14 Days 1 Hr

Servings (Help)
US Metric Calculate

Original Recipe Yield 4 pounds


* 4 pounds fresh ripe olives
* 10 cups water
* 4 tablespoons kosher salt
* 2 lemons, sliced
* 1 cup olive oil
* 2 hot chile peppers


1. Rinse olives and soak overnight in cold water. Drain, and make a small slit in each olive, or you can smash them slightly.
2. Pack the olives into sterile pint jars. Slice chile peppers into rings, and place one into each jar. Place a lemon slice into each jar.
3. Stir together the water and salt until salt is completely dissolved. Pour over the olives in the jar, leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top. Pour olive oil into the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Cover with lids and seal. Let the olives cure in the refrigerator for two weeks before tasting. If the olives are bitter, let them cure for another week.

I also found this one on line, and will send you the link:


Good Luck. I’ll trade you a jar of olives for a jar of homemade red raspberry jam!

Nutritional Information open nutritional information


english vintner October 20, 2010 at 7:15 am

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