I decided that 2015 was the year to home-cure olives. I visited my parent’s home in Almaden Valley in south Santa Clara County. Their neighbor has a large Mission olive tree that generously drapes over the fence. Olives cannot be consumed without curing. All olives contain oleuropein, a glucoside compound, that tastes very bitter. You have to cure them using water, brine, salt, or lye to remove the bitter compound.
Harvest the olives
Prepare the olives
I followed a recommendation to slit the olives to speed up the curing: The brine can access the inside of the olive more easily. You may ask “Is that time-consuming?”. Here is the calculations: One cup of olives contains about 50 olives. I had 30 cups of olives, so 1500 olives. It took 3 hours or 180 minutes to slice the olives.
Brine the olives
Mix 1 and 1/2 cup coarse pickling salt or kosher salt in a gallon of water.
Every month, replace the brine (because the bitter oleuropein glucoside compounds have leached out of the olives into the brine.
After three months, start tasting the olives to see if they are better rather than bitter.
Finish the olives
When the olives are ready, you can finish in a variety of ways: Add herbs, vinegar, chile peppers, garlic, olive oil, or flavored brine.