Make Your Own Brine-Cured Olives

Make Your Own Brine-Cured Olives

Making your own brine-cured olives feels like such an accomplishment. Tending to your olives, refreshing the water daily, tasting and testing… Once they’re finished the taste will far outweigh the effort spent on the brining. If you have an olive tree (or a few) on your property you’ll know how abundantly they can produce. Unless you’re planning on pressing for oil, in which case you’ll usually need 50kg minimum, there’s not much else to do with olives except for curing them.

The process for brine-curing takes patience but the effort involved is not difficult. Start by picking your olives.

Once you have your selection, if you have a real difference in colours, sort the green ones away from the black ones. This is because the green ones are less mature and will need a little longer to brine and lose their bitterness.

Once your olives are sorted, wash them well and remove any really damaged olives. A little bird pecked is fine, but if they are starting to rot then take those out. The same goes for any dry and shrivelled looking olives. You want them as plump and damaged free as possible. Use a sharp knife to cut a little slit into each olive. This will allow the water to enter the olive help remove the bitterness. Alternatively, you can carefully ‘crush’ your olives with a heavy object such as a meat tenderiser or a flat stone. Crush them enough to just break the skin but not to completely flatten the olives.

In a container or jar, soak your prepped olives in plain water for 5-15 days, changing and refreshing the water daily. Make sure your olives are completely submerged under the water. For black and ripe olives 5-10 days will be fine and for green 10-15 days is preferable. You can taste the olives after they have been soaking to test the bitterness. If it is still very bitter, soak the olives for longer.

After soaking in water, it is time to put your olives in brine. You can make a simple brine solution using a ratio of 1 parts salt to 10 parts water. Use an unprocessed salt such as rock salt or sea salt, not with any added iodine as this can affect the end taste of the olives. Boiling your brine solution (and then leaving to cool) before adding to your olives can reduce the chance of any moulds of bad bacteria forming on your olives.

Cover your olives with the brine in an airtight container, making sure the olives are again completely submerged. Let them sit in this brine for about a month, changing the brine fortnightly. You can taste them after a month to check the taste and bitterness. If they are still too bitter, keep soaking them in a fresh brine batch for another 1-2 weeks until you are happy.

Now it is time to jar up your olives in sterilised preserving jars. Make a fresh batch of salt brine and for every 2 cups brine, add in 1/4 cup of your favourite vinegar (I use my homemade apple cider vinegar). Add in any other flavourings you like such as lemon, lime, garlic, oregano, rosemary, chilli. Cover the olives with the brine and flavourings and let them sit for a week to infuse the newly added flavours before sampling.

Olives store well in a sealed jar for up to a year in a cool dark place. Once opened, store in the fridge and use within a month.

Happy curing!

Blueberry and Rhubarb Pie

Blueberry and Rhubarb Pie

Winter came knocking on the door this week and it’s been freezing! Definitely the kind of weather where you want to stay snuggled inside, preferably with something hot and delicious as sustenance. Something like…pie!

This is a rhubarb and blueberry pie to be specific. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you would have seen that I went slightly over board in rhubarb picking a few weeks ago. My freezer is well stocked and this weather seemed like a perfect time to relieve it of excess rhubarb.

Look how pretty. 👇👇

Blueberries, Rhubarb and Pie

I may have used homegrown rhubarb in this recipe but unfortunately my two tiny blueberry bushes did not provide enough this year for a pie. The month of May however, is a great time to plant more blueberry bushes for next years pie. Read More

Building Soil Over Winter- No dig garden beds

Building Soil Over Winter- No dig garden beds

A vegetable plot built from layers of mulch and compost, where nature does all the hard work. Too good to be true or a dream come true?

I side with the latter, I am a major fan of ‘No Dig’ garden beds.

What exactly is a no dig garden bed?

It’s a garden bed that relies on nature to do what nature does best. It’s made with layers of mulches and compost that whilst decomposing, encourage the growth of worms and millions of microorganisms that benefit plant growth.

When you physically dig up a garden you disturb the amazing frameworks underground that are built by these organisms, as well bringing up buried weed seeds that will start growing. A no-dig garden eliminates this.

My soil is hard clay, will this still work?

Yes, it will, but time is a factor. Luckily nature has some helping hands for you in the form of worms.

Earthworms are amazing, a gardener’s best friend really. The larger amount of earthworms you have, the better your soil. These wonderful little creatures turn over and aerate your soil brilliantly, whilst simultaneously excreting worm castings which are bursting with nutrients. You can encourage more worms by adding manure and compost to the layers in your bed.

When should I make a no-dig garden bed?

You can make one any time of the year but I think autumn is the ideal season. Starting this garden bed in autumn means over the winter, all the layers will start breaking down in time for you to use it in spring.

If you’re not using your garden bed straight away, plant green crop over the bed as these plants have long roots that will grow down and help break up the soil, whilst also providing a cover to stop weeds from growing.

Preparing Your No-Dig Bed

First, find a spot that will get lots of sunshine, especially in spring and summer. Weed eat or mow the little section first if the grass is long.

Then lay out layers of newspaper or cardboard about 1cm thick, making sure it overlaps the edges where you have marked out. If you’re after a neat look, border your garden bed with untreated wood slabs, or pavers. Make sure there is a bit of extra cardboard around the edges, that overlap the vegetable plot you have marked out. This is to stop weeds from creeping an around the edges.

Water the newspaper or cardboard, then cover with a layer of mulch. The mulch can be anything such as leaves, grass clippings, leaf mould straw or hay. Lay on a generous layer of this mulch.

On top of the mulch, add a layer of compost and other organic material such as aged manure, chopped up seaweed, old coffee grounds etc.  All this will provide nourishment for worms and microorganisms, who will help break down everything for you and turn it all into rich soil.

Repeat these layers at least once more, though feel free to do more layers for a higher bed.

Now the worms and microorganisms can get to work, breaking down and enriching the soil without any hard graft from you. You can plant straight into a bed like this.

If you are planning on not using this bed for the winter, sow over a green crop. This will stop weeds from growing in your bed and protect the soil while it all breaks down. In spring, this green crop can be chopped down and used as a mulch around new spring seedlings.

Difficult Weeds

If your section has some really persistent weeds such as couch grass or dock, a no-dig garden bed as I described above may not get rid of these completely.

For weeds like that, you can prep the no-dig bed the same way as described above but instead of planting in it or sowing a green crop, cover it with black plastic. Leave this plastic on for about 4 months. The worms and microorganisms will be able to work even faster with the aid of the heat that the black plastic will give the soil. There is also no chance of sunlight seeping through and helping weed seeds germinate.

After 4 months, you’ll have a completely prepped garden bed ready to plant into.



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