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196 responses to “How to Cure Green Olives”

  1. kristin

    Hi! I have cured green olives using lye in previous years and wanted to try the water curing method. I live in AZ desert area so olives ripen a little earlier than for you I think. I picked my green olives yesterday morning ~3 gallons worth and spent a couple hours slicing the olive with my paring knife and immediately dropping them into a “coolish” water bath. When I went to change my water today, I see that the olives are all turning brown around the incision. Any guidance for me on this? All olives have stayed fully submerged in water since they were pierced yesterday. When I used the lye curing method all olives stayed a beautiful green so I am a little concerned that I may have some contamination or something. If the browning is normal, that is OK, I was just not really prepared for that and was curious if you have the same results with the area around your piercings. Thanks! Great instructions for this process!

  2. kristin

    Thanks Hank! I am so excited to see what they will turn out like in comparison to the batches I have tried in the past

  3. cathy

    I also live in AZ and our tree`s olives are just now (Mid August)turning from green to dark purple. Am I too late or is it time?

  4. Jim Haubrich

    Go Badgers! I retired to Arizona and want to make olives like my Italian friends do back in WI. I just ordered 10 pounds of olives from Temecula, CA and they will arrive in a few weeks so I want to make sure I process them right away. The way I was taught was to crack open the olives and remove the pit, then soak them for around 3 weeks, changing the water daily. Then drain them and place them in quart canning jars with clean water and several teaspoons of kosher salt. Several weeks later they were ready to eat. We drained them and then sprinkled them with 1t. garlic powder, 1t. oregano, 1/4t. red pepper flakes, and enough salad oil to coat them. This gave them a nice Italian taste. Should I continue to remove the pits or leave them in? Do the pits affect the flavor? Can the olives be shrink wrapped after brining and stored out of the refrigerator? Thanks!!

  5. Neil Koheil

    Hi there, i’m about to cure my first olives and was wondering about storing them once brined. do you recommend separating them into smaller containers and covering with oil or leaving them in the brine?

  6. Neil Koheil

    Thanks Hank. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  7. Starla

    You can buy raw olives from Chaffin Family Farms in Oroville, CA. They are a family farm with beautiful old olive groves, and I believe they ship to anywhere in the continental US.

  8. cory c.

    hank it appears you’re the az-ca-wi connection. I went to Marquette and live in az now. always good to hear of a fellow cheeselander escaping the didn’t really answer the “should I pit them before brining or after question”. I gotta know since it’s pickin’ time here. thanx

  9. Paci Hammond

    Thanks for the instructions on brining. Do I really have to wait until Spring to enjoy them? A few years ago I salt-cured them for about a month; a very earthy layer of flavor around a lot of pit. Olive fruit flies have been a big problem. I have tried Torula yeast tablet lures, and had 36% of my harvest infested. Any suggestions for organic methods.that might improve the yield? I suppose I could just yield to Mother Nature…

  10. This Week in Our Garden :: 9.16.2013 | Sowing by the Sea

    […] many were stricken by the olive fly!, we were able to get a save a good amount, and are trying this process for curing. :: Rogue pumpkins that grew out of compost spread around new plantings, are now making […]

  11. patti

    I just started a batch of green olives and I sliced them and have been soaking them for about a week. The spots where I sliced them are turning brown and they also have brown spots on them. What is that from and should I continue to soak them or are they no good. The last time I did olives I used the dark ones and they were fantastic. Thank for your help.

  12. martha d'ambrosio

    I brined my Barouni olives with salt brine in November last year and opened a jar in April and they were bitter and I let the rest continue to brine. I opened a jar just now in September and they are still bitter. Is there anything I can do? Can I drain the jars and rinse and perhaps re-brine with a saltier mix? or are they a total loss and I have to start over with fresh raw olives again? Not sure what contributed to the bitterness.

  13. Gina

    Thanks for the article.

    Do you need to keep it in refrigeration during the brining process? My Chicago studio space ranges in temps betweek 60-75 in the winter so wondering if I have to keep it in the fridge…a month seems manageable for the first part but as it takes up so much room, wondering if we can ferment at room temp?

  14. AnnaF

    Martha, the same thing happened to me. I used Barounis. It has taken a year. I finally caved in this summer and sliced each olive w/ a knife, and then I changed the brine a couple times. Just jarred them up in a fresh batch of brine and put in the fridge, in late September. My advice is make sure you slice them w/a knife and change the brine every month or so as Hank suggests. I just received another 20# box in the mail and I am going to follow his instructions, religiously this time, and see what happens. Anna

  15. Rick McDaniel

    I just got some olives from a lone tree on Lake Yosemite in Merced, so here I go! 412 olives, to be exact, as I just sliced them individually…

  16. Devine

    I couldn’t tell from the article – at the end of the water cure, you go into brine. Is that the same brine that the olives reside in for the next few months, or does it get changed at some point? Thanks!

  17. How to Cure Green Olives -

    […] different posts on curing olives over the years.  My technique is based on the excellent advice of Hank Shaw; I’ve leaned on his post for the creation of these olives.  His article goes into much more […]

  18. Jenn

    We only had the “Colossal” olives on our ranch this year. Our father, (who passed away years ago), would never cure those. His were the best ever and he always used the lye/then rock salt method. So, we tried to cure them anyway. Just a few hours into the process the skins began to separate from the olives. Dad always said that they turned mushy and that’s why he didn’t bother with Colossals.

    Our green olives were always ready to eat in a month, and the neighbors came from all over with their containers around the first of November to Dad’s for their beloved green olives.

    We’re hoping someone has a recipe out there where you can cure a Colossal Olive that will bring the neighbors around.

    Happy Holidays…..

  19. Tom

    Hank, in your recipe for brine curing, I don’t see any instruction to make a slice into the olive with a knife, before starting the fermentation. Is that the right way? Can you brine cure without slicing them (or smashing them)? Thanks.

  20. Gina

    OK, so have been bathing in water at room temp for a month now. I read it was okay as my studio is super cool on another site and the way the Greeks did it as refridgeration wasn’t around. Anyway, I know you do yours in the fridge but I just don’t have space for it. 30 days, submerged, washed daily. After 15 days they were still really bitter so I just did it for 30…today is the 30 day mark.

    Question: I took a bite and it still has a slight bitterness. However, underlying that there is a bit of a foul taste that I can’t tell if it okay or not. I forgot to wash them three times during the month. I am now doing it twice a day to see if the foul taste goes away. HOW do you know if your olives are “bad” I am concerned I let them bathe too long. The color is a little darker than olives you see at the store. There is only a few that have this little white coating on them in the crevices…have you seen this? Also, none of them are constistent in color, they are darker green and lighter green (not neon like they started)

    So, question is are they still okay with my description of taste and visuals? and if there is still a bitter taste can I start brining? Lastly, what is the worst case, they taste like crap or I die a horrible death from bacteria?

    I am going to start brining now but will check in to see if I should even waste my time…

    Thanks! G

  21. Joseph Morabito

    I enjoyed reading your article. We’ve been curing our own olives for at least ten years. Sometimes they are the greatest things ever, other times they are ‘ho hum’ (I need to settle on a recipe… oh I probably should write it down too).

    A few weeks ago we picked a couple of gallons worth, and today I thought I’d go start another batch. The olive fly problem is horrible this year. I gave up trying to pick after about 40 mins and only got about quart’s worth.

    I basically do a hybrid of the various methods. I soak them in salt water, and change the water every couple of days. I’ve never tried the ‘water only’ method.

  22. Louis

    After treating my olives in clear water I now put them in brine in a dark cool place. Now I noticed that most of them are wrinkled. Can you tell me the reason why please? Many thanks.

  23. Susannah

    Brining olives for the very first time and we were hoping to give as Christmas gifts- even if the recipient has to hold on to the jar a couple of months before opening. Is this reasonable? I’ve done a bit of research and it looks like after the first month (changing water daily) I can put in oil or water and add the herbs, etc, and that’s where they sit it after that? Sorry to be a bit confused- there appear to be a LOT of methods online! I already know which herb combo I want to go with, but would like to do as much as possible to insure they’re tasty!
    thanks much

  24. Melissa W

    Used your method last year and loved the outcome! They were great right of the jar after about 4 months. I changed the brine a few times until they lost most of the bitterness, they were great. I also used the olives in Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Preserved lemon and olive tagine, perfect olive for it. Just bought 13 lbs at Produce Junction today I almost missed them as this is the end of them here at the store. I’m trying the slicing method this year as well, they are in my giant pickle jars in their water bath. THanks for the great advice it was so helpful I came back again this year to get your advice again.

  25. Gina

    YAY My olives are starting to taste like “OLIVES”. I didn’t read the article all the way through for the addition of spices, so 50% of my olives brined for 1 month in just salt and champagne vinegar…the other I used salt, a mixture of regular champagne vinegar and orange champagne vinegar from O brand, clementine peels and bay leaves. I was having a little fruit fly party it seems on the one with the orange peels so took out them for the next “sitting” However, the orange batch one tasted almost done…just a teeeeny bit of bitterness in the bigger ones. The regular salt/vinegar batch was still bitter. I am going to see what happens next month but switching to white wine vinegar as champagne vinegar is expensive, so will do that on the last run. A month ago, I was really skeptical about having done just a room temperature water soak for 30 days (as I didn’t do the fridge) and now I am feeling really good about it!

  26. Joseph Morabito

    I’ve been curing olives for ten years. I’ve had many great batches, and many “also rans.”

    I agree that ten days is NOT enough time. It takes three weeks to a month.

    Hope you had a good year!

  27. bert

    OMG! First time curing olives and I have done the 4 weeks of changing water every day and put olives in salt brine it’s been 3 week and I realized I didn’t add the vinegar can I still salvage all my olives or do I have to toss them out and start over with a new batch.
    Any advise is greatly appreciated.

  28. bert

    Thank you Hank for your quick response. I also noticed that one of the jars has mold:( on top I noticed it wasn’t air tight ,should I add the vinegar now to all of them, should I just remove the mold and add vinegar to this one. What do I do now?

  29. Sam

    Hello hank
    I picked about 2 gallons of olives from a neighbors tree about a week ago didn’t separate them just cleaned and slit them and have been change water everyday I am using regular tap water but today I notice a bubbly foam on top and after cleaning them some sunk down to the bottom of the jar I have been keep them at room temperature Don’t have a large frig to keep them in. should I start over even though it was a lot of work picking and slicing them one by one.

  30. Pete Chrisbacher

    Hello Hank –

    Thanks much for the fresh water cure instructions. I made two different final brines based on your suggestions, and thought I’d pass along the winner (by far):

    Pete’s Brine #2 2013
    1/4 cup kosher salt
    4 cups cool water
    1/2 cup white wine vinegar
    2 bay leaves
    1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
    2 T dried lemon thyme
    1 T dried ramps

    I’d love to hear about others’ favorite brines!


  31. Eric

    Martha>I brined my Barouni olives with salt brine in November last year and opened a jar in April and they were bitter and I let the rest continue to brine. I opened a jar just now in September and they are still bitter.

    Hey Martha – you wrote here that you are brining and capping the jars. I dont think you should cap the jars. Capping puts a halt to the fermentation process as the fermentation gases need to excape. You also give me the impression you are not changing the brine all this time.

  32. mike landon

    This is great! My chef brought in a case of raw olives and told us to go nuts! This will be a great starting point since none of us have ever cured olives. Thanks Hank!

  33. Gina

    Hi, update… left my olives for over a month in the brine as I didn’t want to jar them up. (the last batch was perferct so I thought I would just let them sit) I went to get more to prepare and they are way too soft now. What did I do wrong? How do you stop the process of them doing that? Looks like I will have to start over as the texture is pretty weird. :( Thanks!

  34. Alyssa

    Hi Hank,
    Here’s one for you- I ordered some olives online, which were promptly delivered. They are Castelvetranos, and taste musty. Is this normal? The company says it’s just the brine, and to soak them in water for a few days. I still taste mustiness, though. Have you ever experienced this with your olives?

  35. Amy

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I have 4 olive trees at my house and have been trying to figure out what to do with the olives. I have a question though. How bad are spots? My olives did not appear to be affected by the olive fly, but once I started the water soaking most turned spotted. Like little darkish brown spots over most of the olive. The spots haven’t gone away now that the olives are in the brine. They smell good and I have no scum so I am hoping they are still okay. Thanks!

  36. Amy

    Thanks for the quick response! I ate one last night and I didn’t die so I guess they are okay. :) Just not that pretty. I’ll probably end up pulling out the worst of them.

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