Monday, 15 November 2010

Luscious Purple Olives…

…I just picked my favourite olive tree, that bears these enormous, purple-black kalamata fruits.  They look good enough to eat straight away, however, anyone who has ever tried olives straight from the tree will confirm that they are extremely bitter and inedible.


Before they are ready for the table, they must be “cured” or “sweetened” as the Portuguese say.  There are many ways of doing this and here, it is traditional to cut a couple of slashes in the fruits with a sharp knife, before submerging them in clean water.  Personally, it would be a shame to cut these perfect olives and, as the reason for doing so is just to speed up the curing process, I don´t think it is essential.  I already have some green-purple-black kalamata olives curing that I did cut, and those should be ready first.

Most important to the curing procedure is to change the water regularly; at least as often as the water becomes scummy.  The scum is the bitter properties that must be removed.  One tip we were given is to leave the lid off the barrels in the rainy season and let the rainwater keep the water fresh.

Although many people add salt during curing, the way we were shown uses just plain water.  You need to keep tasting the olives every week or so after the first month to see how they are progressing.  The aim is to have some ready for the table by the end of the year.

We only add salt to a small quantity of cured fruits at a time but they could all be salted and have flavours added too e.g. piri-piri, lemon rind, garlic or oregano.  Personally, I enjoy them plain.

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