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How to: pickle olives

Photo - DEA / P.MARTINI/De Agostini/

Olives are one of those foods that conjure a sense of awe about the culinary curiosity of our forebears. 

Who was it that first worked out that even though an olive fresh from the tree is so bitter it can’t be eaten, the oil squeezed from it is delicious? Even more adventurous, which pioneer of the palate deduced that if you soaked those bitter fruits in brine for a few weeks the fruit became salty and delicious and just the thing with a glass of wine. 

Now is the time to make like the ancients and soak down olives for enjoying over winter. Gardeners will picking their own harvest, the rest of us can buy cases of green olives from greengrocers.

1.Rinse the olives, and remove any stones or bits of stick.

2.Fill a bucket (choose one with a lid) with enough water to generously cover the olives.

3.Place an egg in the water and add rock salt until the water is salty enough to float the egg.

4.Place the rinsed olives into the water and put a plate topped with a tin of tomatoes over them to ensure the olives are submerged in the brine. Put the lid on the bucket.

5.After three weeks ignore the ugly slime, and taste an olive. If they taste good, and not bitter, they are done. If not, leave them in the brine and taste every second day until they do taste good. This process could take another couple of weeks.

6.Lightly rinse the olives, then place into sterilised jars with your choice of flavour (garlic, rosemary, oregano, chilli). Top up with good quality olive oil.

7.Store for two months before opening to allow the flavours to develop.


Recipe: Clarita

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Author: Linda Ross