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Sometimes the best recipes for preserving are not found in books but through old people who know the culture and have centuries if knowledge passed from one family member to the next generation as a rite of passage.
the Italian Way

is a brilliant little book, not deemed good enough to publish by any of the big publishers, but it is a brilliant book, that is an accumulation of family recipes and we have found it a brilliant resource. Happily it is selling well, but still a little hard to find. If you have a problem tracking the book down contact Pietro Demaio, Memoirs Foundation Inc. (Australia) +61 3 9888 9588. In South Australia it is available from Imprints Booksellers, Hindley Street, Adelaide, South Australia.
simple utterly foolproof salt curing method
Sit a colander (we use big plastic colanders and bowls from our Chinese grocer) over a bowl, and spread a layer of rock salt in the bottom. Put a layer of olives, then salt, and continue repeating the process, finishing with a thick layer of salt. The beauty of this method is the bottom olives don’t sit in a saturated salt solution and cure much quicker than the top olives. Green olives can take anything up to three months to clear themselves of their bitterness, whereas black olives, especially the very small feral olives cure very quickly and when very ripe can take as little as a week. Tasting from the top is the best test, and if they are no longer bitter they are ready to come from the salt. Remember when you wash off your salt that if you choose the garden choose a spot where the run off will not kill everything in its path.

They can then be bottled in a brine solution of 20g of salt, 100ml Vine Valley white wine vinegar for every litre of water, or rather more extravagant, but especially good covered in a mixture of 100ml balsamic, 10g whole pepper, 3 cloves of garlic, 3–4 chillies split lengthwise, 3 fresh bay leaves and 1 litre of olive oil. common sense is required when adding the salt at this stage if you think the olives are excessively salty rather than tasty with a strong salt flavour, put 5g per litre and check them in a week or two.
Quantity in both cases depends of the size of your jars and the amount you are preparing. The best way to figure out how much you will need is to fill your jars with olives, fill them with water and then tip that water into a buck and measure the amount. Another 6–8 weeks and your olives will be ready for eating.


  • Pickling recipes can never be absolute, you have to taste them and making sure the salt can drain properly is vital if they sit in the salt solution, the bottom olives will be ready before the top olives
  • We’ve never had any problems but our Italian friends say that adding fresh garlic to olives is asking for trouble and they say garlic is only added when making the transition from naked to dressed olives that will be eaten within a matter of weeks
  • We don't have a cellar and have found finding storage places in our kitchen where the temperature is constant has become increasingly hard with recent prolonged heat waves where the storeroom temperature has been well over 30°C for anything up to 10 days at a time. So, where you store your olives is important!

if you let your olives get too dry

  • Depending on how dry they are cover them with hot (a little too dried out) and boiling (very dried out) and let them sit for about an hour until the water cools and the flesh is a little softened.
  • Taste the olives if they are still very salty, repeat the process until the have a good taste again.
  • Rinse them off and proceed to put them into oil.

looking for green olive method click here

naked and
dressed olives

Even olives stored in brine should be well drained and marinated in a little olive oil before serving them as an appetiser, and for your martini, straight from the brine, well drained, spiked with a toothpick and into the glass.

more tips
  • The great thing about the salted dried olives is that they keep indefinitely and you don't need to put them into oil or marinate them immediately. do not wash the olives off until you want to put them into oil or a marinade, but you must brush off as much of the salt as possible.
  • If you have a vac machine, vac them. They are easy to store and don’t take up so much room.
  • If you leave the olives in the salt too long you can always put them right again and soak them in cold water until they are fine again.
  • Once they have been washed of the olives must going into a marinade or olive oil