Monday, August 3, 2009

Fresh Olives - Curing Your Own

Right around now (August) fresh olives are available from California. There are still those who enjoy the act of curing their own olives and Doris Italian Market & Bakery is your source for getting fresh olives from California. The olives are usually available only from August through September and sometimes are still available in early October.

To prepare those who have or are interested in curing their own olives, we have provided the following information to help you do so.

ABC's of Home-Cured , Green-Ripe Olives
Pick olives for hom-curing at the green or straw-colored stage.
Do not use black-ripe fruit; it becomes too soft during lye treatment
LYE: Treating Olves with lye removes bitterness. Flake or household lye can be used for curing olives. WARNING: Lye can cause serious burns. HANDLE WITH CARE: Use lemon or vinegar to neutralize lye that splashes onto the skin. If lye gets into the eyes, bathe the eyes with running water and CALL THE DOCTOR. If lye is swallowed, CALL THE DOCTOR; drink milk or egg white - DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING.
To dispose of lye solutions, pour down the toilet and flush several times, or pur down the sink and run cold water to flush it out.
SALT: Regular table salt can be used in curing olives. Salt gives olives thei characteristic flavor and serevs as a preservative.
EQUIPMENT: Use wood, glass, stoneware, or heavy, light-colored plastic containers. DO NOT USE glavanized or aluminum containers. Stirring utensils should be stainless steel or wood.
Be sure olives are completely covered by solution during all stages of curing. Exposure to air darkens olives.
A. Lye Treatment
  • Soak 12 hours in lye solution - 4 tablespoons lye in one gallon cold water. (Solution should not be over 65 to 70 degrees Farenheit before adding olives.) Stir occasionally.
  • Drain and soak 12 more hours in fresh lye solution. Cut into a large olive - lye will change the flesh to a yellow-green color, penetrating to the pit.
  • If the lye has not penetrated to the pit, soak an additional 12 hours in a fresh lye solution.
B. Rinse
  • Rinse in cold water.
  • Soak 6 hours in fresh, cold water.
Change the water & soak 6 hours in fresh, cold water, repeating 4 times a day for 4 to 8 days until there is no lye taste.
C. Brine Cure
  • Cover with salt brine - 6 tablespoons salt per gallon of water. Let stand 2 days. Refrigerate and use within two weeks. To keep longer than two weeks, follow the next 3 steps or process in a pressure canner.
  • Cover with salt brine - 13 tablespoons salt per gallon of water. Store 1 week.
  • Cover with fresh salt brine - 1 pound or 1 2/3 cups salt per gallon of water. Let stand 10 to 12 days.
  • Cover with fresh brine - 1 pound or 1 2/3 cups salt per gallon of water. Store in a cool place, preferably a refrigerator.

Use within 2 to 4 months. Before eating, soak olives overnight in fresh water to remove excess salt. Use within 3 days after soaking.

  • If, at any time, the olives become soft or bad smelling. DO NOT EAT OR EVEN TASTE THEM.
  • Mold or scum mar form on the brine. Skim off as soon as it appears. If the mold growth is heavy, destroy the olives.
  • Olives are a low-acid food and require careful handling to prevent botulism. Olives MUST be canned in a pressure canner. The complete directions for canning are in Home Pickling of Olives.Try these links as well for more in formation about canning. Click here and/or here.

Depending on the market, fresh olive prices have fluctuated between $3.50 to $6 per pound. If you are planning to cure a decent amount of olives, there is a better value at buying the olives by the whole box. Just check with your produce manager at any Doris Italian Market location.


  1. Thanks for this. I've just canned my first olives. I boiled everything to within an inch of its life!

  2. Glad you enjoy the blog. Let us know how the olives turn out!

  3. I love this time of year when the olives ripen. The ones in the picture looks delicious! I'll have to try the suggestions to cure them. Grazie!