Home-Cured Olives

If you recall, on January 10 we picked about a half gallon of tiny wild olives on a nearby trail. That day, I sliced each olive about halfway and covered the lot with water. I changed the water every day for two weeks, at which time the olives had lost most of their bitterness. I then prepared a 5% salt brine and added it to the olives, along with garlic cloves, mustard seeds, peppercorns, a bay leaf, and a slug of red wine vinegar. That mixture sat on the counter for two weeks, with me giving it a stir and a taste every couple of days.

Today I decided it was time to jar the finished product, though the olives aren't quite at the flavor that I desire. 

Since the flavor of olives will improve as long as they continue to cure, I decided to pack these in a fresh brine with fresh herbs. I made the saltiest brine I could, so salty that it didn't even dissolve all of the way in the pot! To each jar, I added a fresh garlic clove (the last from our summer 2015 garden), fresh rosemary from the garden, a dried bay leaf from my mom's garden, and mustard seeds. I packed the olives in very tightly and poured the fresh brine over them.

This half gallon of olives made eight of these small Weck jars for gifts, plus a 12 ounce jar for our own use. I believe these jars were about 5 ounces each.

The olives look pretty and will be nice gifts. I think they will reach optimum flavor after another week in this new brine.

This was a fun project that was not hard, just time consuming. When I look online at prices for artisan olives, they run about a buck an ounce (for conventional olives). Since we had everything on hand other than these cute jars, we really saved quite a bit of money making our own. And, I know that these wild olives were unsprayed and untreated, and organic olives are nearly impossible to find. So! If you find a wild olive tree, you might consider curing your own as well.

*edited 2/8/16 This brine was too salty!!! Please see post of 2/8/16 for corrections.