This week Mr. H. came home with a neat surprise: a bag of freshly harvested arbequina olives from a friend’s tree. I rushed to the thought of curing them at home.
I was going to follow Laura’s method of curing olives, but I had to do a double take. These aren’t your usual olives. They are Spanish arbequina olives. They are known to be a prized high quality variety of olives. The arbequina olives also happen to be very small in size, which made me think that the usual physical chemical science behind curing bigger olives might not quite be the same for these.
You can imagine how small they are in the next picture compared to my fingers. No, I don’t have huge fingers. Though if I did it might be a bit more practical for me, I would be able to reach a wider range of notes on the piano than what I can do (9 white keys wide, after a life of finger stretching excercises).
It seems that the usual method of curing olives would be to leave them soaking in water and salt for weeks or even months, changing the water now and then, about once a week. Uncured olives are very bitter because of its content in oleuropein. This brining process empties the olives of the oleuropein to reduce the bitterness. In the case of the arbequina olives, they apparently contain a bit less oleuropein to begin with, and soaking them in a salted solution for too long would make them shrink and get wrinkly. According to what I read, the only thing I have to do is soak them in water for 4-8 weeks in a sterile jar and change the water every few days, also watch out for any unwanted fungal growth.
Once they are soft and non-bitter enough, then I can put them in brine and flavour them with whatever I want.
My olives are now lazily soaking in a huge jar. When the time comes to put them in brine, I might separate them into smaller jars so I can create different flavours with them. Now I have 4-8 weeks to decide what ingredients I want to add. Any suggestions?
Thank you for reading!