Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Brining the olives
I'm not a bottler or preserver. I don't make jam or chutney except in tiny batches to keep in the fridge. But every year I brine a batch of olives from our olive grove over the hill. They are kalamata from one of our two kalamata trees, one of which is thriving on our daughter's placenta.
Kalamata olives are Greek olives and I am part-Greek, so naturally I am drawn to them. Last year, my husband, daughter and I hand-picked them, this year my husband did them on his own. The rest of our olives are Italian, Spanish or Israeli and are picked by a machine and crushed for oil.
I can brine the olives without consulting a recipe now. I soak them in fresh water for a few weeks (around 4) changing the water every day (such a chore!), make enough brine to cover them using the measurements of 100g of salt to one litre of boiling water (enough to float an egg), dissolve the salt and cool the brine, wash and sterlise the jars in the oven and let them cool, put a little brine in the jar - pile in the olives - top with brine and a layer of olive oil with a gap at the top, put on the lids (not too tight) and there you have it!
A peasant (sic) and pleasing task. I keep looking at the jars and feeling a woosh of pride. The photo is of Ian and me with one of our first crops. The trees were so small then. They are nearly 15 years old now and tower over us. The grove is my husband's pride and joy and he does all the work there now, but every year I brine the olives - and eat them - and eat the oil of course.