Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Finish Brine for Water-Cured Olives

On January 19th, I finally got around to brining our Mission, Manzanillo and Arbequina olives, which we had been water curing all together (with slits cut into each fruit) in a 5-gallon bucket since December 26th. 

As mentioned  in my previous post about the olives http://thegrubfiles.blogspot.com/2011/01/our-olive-curing-adventure-begins-may.html , most of the fruit had fallen off the trees by then due to our rainy & frosty weather in Southern California this past December, so the our final harvest was quite meager. After the curing period, I separated the smaller Arbequinas from the larger (and more ripe/black) Missions & Manzanillos into two 1-quart mason jars for the finish brine.

I still have no idea what the fairying forest I'm doing, but I'm basically following the instructions from U.C. Davis' olive curing publication http://ucanr.org/freepubs/docs/8267.pdf . Here's the finish brine recipe for oil-rich, Kalamata or Mission-style olives:

1 1/2 cups of pickling salt (I substituted with coarse kosher salt)
1 gallon of cool water
4 cups red wine vinegar
Olive oil

1. Mix brine solution ingredients together (except for olive oil), until salt is dissolved. This amount is enough for about 10 lbs. of fresh olives. 

2. Place olives into clean 1-qt. mason jars and cover with brining solution. Add 1/4-3/8 inch of olive oil on top. Cover jars tightly and store at 60-80F for one month (or more) to develop flavor. 

3. After that, keep the containers in a cool dark place or in the frig for up to a year, so long as the jars remain air-tight. 

Add 1 1/2 cups of pickling (or Kosher) salt to 1 gallon of cool water. 

Add 4 cups of red wine vinegar to the solution.

Kosher salt, olive oil & red wine vinegar.

Since I water cured all three olive varieties together in the same bucket, I decided to separate them for the finish brining process. The smaller, more roundish and brownish Arbequinas are to the left, and the larger, black Missions and Manzanillos are to the right.

Using 1-quart mason jars for the finish brine.

Must thoroughly clean the jars with hot, soapy water before using.

Add olives to the jars. 

Pour brine solution over the olives.

Pour 1/4-3/8 inch of olive oil on top.

Cover jars tightly.

Store at 60-80F for 30 days, or until desired flavor level is reached. 

The jars are being stored in our pantry, bookmarked between the granulated sugar and Hana's chicken tender snacks. On February 19th, I'll taste test these guys to see if they're edible. If so, then, they'll I'll celebrate with some bubbly, and then they'll be recapped and put in the frig for long-term storage. 


  1. Replies
    1. Diana, the larger Mission & Manzanillo olives tasted pretty good. There was still a slightly bitter aftertaste, but not too detracting. We probably should have cut two slits into each olive instead of one before soaking them in water so that more of the bitter compounds would be able to leach out. From what I've read, water-cured olives will always have a touch of bitterness, but I'm not ready to try lye-cured yet, which sounds kind of freaky. I used them to make a tapenade with sun-dried tomatoes, and they were pretty good: http://thegrubfiles.blogspot.com/2011/03/olive-sun-dried-tomato-tapenade.html. Our water-cured Arbequinas, however, didn't fare so well - they were tasteless & watery.