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Olive You – Turning enemies into friends… Edible friends

WARNING: this story contains puns that are not funny, or even remotely helpful. If you get them, great! If you get them and laugh, you are my hero.

Let me start by saying that I am severely allergic to olive trees & their pollen, but not olives. My feelings about olives were fairly neutral until about 7 years ago, when we moved into our current house and started a tiny backyard garden. This is when my relationship with olives turned bitter (rim shot). You see, our neighbor has an olive tree in their backyard. It didn’t occur to me to mind until I discovered that between the months of March and May (depending on the weather) I wanted to dig my eyeballs out of my skull and run the high pressure hose through my nose cavity so I could breath a little better. No big deal, right? Many people suffer from allergies, so why be a big crybaby about it? That’s why wonderful companies like Aventis and Alcon created pharmaceutical solutions to these everyday problems. Yay for science!

One solution I am still looking for is an easier, faster way to remove the hundreds of olives that drop into my garden every year. These little fruits, in the long run are probably beneficial in the way of soil nutrients, but they are messy and a total pain in the ass to clean up and if I don’t, the part that doesn’t immediately decompose screws with the structure of my soil. Now, some of you may be saying “what a pity,” (rim shot) but this year my husband brought in a mound of branches with ripe olives and said, “think you could do something with these?”

After I ran through some pretty creative ways to ensure that these little beauties came to a swift and violent end, I started my search on ways to home cure olives. I was surprised at how little information is out there on the subject, but ran across a tremendously helpful publication out of UC Davis on safe methods for home pickling. After all, could it be much worse than raking and hand picking them out of the raised beds?

While I haven’t tried and won’t try all of the curing methods in this document, because I tend to be a bit picky (rim shot) I highly recommend it to anyone who would like to try curing their own olives. I am too nervous about bacteria to try the water-cured method. I don’t even use soap with lye in it, so there is no way I would use it in my food preparation. I won’t try the salt-cured method because raisiny olives don’t sound appealing to me at all. Maybe that’s because I hate raisins, but that’s another story for another time.

What I can do is vouch for the brine-cured olives. It took about 6 months with nearly monthly refreshes on the brine, but now I have some delightfully flavored olives to snack on whenever my little heart desires. I used a couple of bay leaves and some garlic in my brine, and cured the olives in a one gallon glass jar, right on my kitchen counter. Feel free to get creative when using spices, but keep in mind the time investment when experimenting. Nothing will kill a blossoming interest (rim shot) in home curing olives like throwing an entire batch of olives away because the cumin, rosemary, chipotle spice mix didn’t taste as good as it sounded.

And that my friends, is how you turn a negative into a positive! So go out there and get the cure for what ails you (rim shot)!!!

Image by Skepclectic Mom

Image by Skepclectic Mom: The fruits of my labor!