Curing Olives


It looks like magic, doesn’t it? A bunch of olives, suspended in mid-air mid-liquid.

These are some olives we bought at the organic market (every 2nd and last sunday on the Vicolo della Moretta). I found them to be not cured enough, still too bitter, so decided to help a little bit. I know real olive curing involves natron-lye solution, but I am afraid of that. And since these are not totally uncured, but just need a little push, I decided saltwater would suffice. What do you think? Is salt enough? Should I change the water everyday?

Curing Olives

Can you tell I have a new camera? Can you tell I am loving it? Because I do!

20 Responses

  1. It seems that the sun is new too. :-)

  2. Saltwater will not leech out the glucocide that makes unripe olives bitter. Since Lye is a powerful base (I agree…quite scary), I would suggest a soak in a water-baking soda solution. After a couple of days, soak the olives in clean water to leech out the base so that the Ph will balance out. Change the water at least once a day to make sure that it all flushes out.

  3. Véronique, you are right, I love my new sun, really. It is here almost everyday!
    Todd, it seems like you know what you are talking about. So I will try baking soda, I have it at hand (just like every housewife should ;-)) and will write about it. Thank you!

  4. Congrats on the new camera! Olives aren’t my taste but the pictures are airy and beautiful.

    My boyfriend did end up owning kreuzkümmel, but I went to Naschmarkt anyway and found a healthy selection of spices there. Also found an Asian store that sold a ton of Indian spices!

  5. Being an olive fiend, I’ve picked and cured my own olives a few times (it’s great fun), and the saltwater method always worked great–no bitterness. But that was over a period of 4-6 weeks, so I’m not sure how it would work with already cured olives–hope the baking soda does the trick–I’ve never heard of that, but the commenter sounds knowledgeable.

  6. oops, my previous post linked to a different blog (clicking my name on this one should take you to my food blog–I have to switch it around depending on what type of blog I’m commenting on!)

  7. Jenna,
    yey for finding an Asian store. I have yet to find one in Roma (i know there are some, I just have to find them/the time to visit them!).
    I read about your olives, you too seem to be knowledgeable! Mine turned out real good after I followed Todd’s recommendation. 4 days in baking soda – water, then 2 days and many flushes with clear water, and now they show their real taste. Just dressed them with some herbs, a slice of blood orange and olive oil, tomorrow they will be eaten!

  8. Love the way the olives are suspended like that. Have they all been consumed by now? I’ve never tried curing my own olives. Definitely something to try, one day.

  9. I’ve got a bunch of small green olives that have been curing for months and they’re still bitter. The recipe I originally used didn’t say to switch the brine every day at the beginning; I heard of that much later. They’ve been in salt/vinegar (I think – can’t remember exactly now) and herbs.
    Is there anything I can do at this point to save them? If I empty out all the brine and put them in baking soda water will that help? And if it does, will it take away the herb flavor along with the bitterness?

  10. Y,
    yes, they are gone by now. The baking soda suggestion from Todd worked really good.
    I think starting out anew with baking soda/water would work out, it did for me. I am not sure what it really does on a chemical/physical level and so don’t know if the herb flavor will be washed away, too; but I tend to think so. But that shouldn’t be a big problem, after the bitterness is gone, you can cover the well-rinsed olives with olive oil and herbs and it takes just a couple of days for them to get the flavor!
    obviously, thank you!

  11. What is the baking soda/water “recipe” (ie how much baking soda for how much water), or does it matter?

  12. Carol,
    for that jar you see (about a quart of water) I used 4 Tbsp of baking soda. I have no idea if this was right or if mattered that much, but it worked, that I can say. I am sorry I can’t be more scientific and give more details, but this is all I know from my hands on experience!

  13. Hi,
    Can someone please submit a level recipe for curing with baking soda as a alternative to lye?
    I have one pound of green olives fresh from a Farmers Market.
    This would help people with a low sodium diet and are afraid to mess with Lye.
    Thank you,

  14. MsL,
    if you read through the comments, you’ll see that I have solved the problem with baking soda. Please read the comments, and you’ll get all the information you need.

  15. Ok reading through these post this is what I gather.
    As far as a recipe to cure olives via Baking Soda.
    I quart of water 4 Tbsp. Baking Soda 1lb Olives
    4 days in Baking Soda Brine 2 days regular water rinse each day.
    Is this about right, or did I miss something here?
    How does the Baking soda do it for the Olives, and why is there no other web site with this simple solution?
    I am trying this with fresh Olives I bought from a Farmers Market.

  16. MsL,
    yes, you got it right, that is what I did. As I wrote before, I am no expert on this and got this information from Todd and have no idea why and how this works.

  17. It tried this and it didn’t work for me.
    Maybe next time.

  18. Thanks, I’m going to try this. Last year I successfully cured olives in brine over 6 months. They were fantastic. This year, my attempt was not so successful. After six and half months the fruit is still a little too bitter. Crisp, but bitter. I’ll try this out and the let you know.

  19. […] Olives Taggiasca, Gaeta or […]

  20. This a very helpful. Always wanted to cured my own olives. Very helpful. Thanks you!!

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