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Now is the time to pick green olives...

..... wait until Xmas if you prefer them black.

We have four 100+ years old picholine olive trees in the garden. Not a great crop this year, and quite a lot of insect infestation.

So :

1) Pick olives
2) Grade by size
3) Reject those with insect holes
4) Cure olives separately
5) Bottle

The reason they are sorted by size is that the best become olives for aperitifs, the others end up as tapenade.

Curing :

You will see on the net that everyone has their own recipe for curing olives. We've tried the salt only recipes and not had such good results.

Our most successful treatment uses sodium hydroxide - caustic soda - lessive de soudre. This sounds pretty drastic, but is the most commonly used curing technique here in Languedoc.

Essentially the olives are immersed in a sodium hydroxide solution, then rinsed over several days, then bottled in brine with various additives and herbs.

Different treatments have different strengths of caustic hydroxide, and different techniques.

Ours is :

Immerse the olives in a 3% solution of sodium hydroxide (you normally buy it as 30% - so it is diluted 1 to 9 with water).

After about 6 hours take an olive, cut it in two and check the colour of the flesh. When you can see the colour change has reached the stone, rinse in cold water and then immerse in clean water.

Rinse over several days until the water remains clear for 12 hours ( this could take 5 or 6 days).

Then bottle the olives in a 5% salt solution with a drop of olive oil on the top of the liquid. You can add herbs de provence, chillis etc to flavour the olives.

Bonne chance

Peter
The Languedoc Page

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