Processing of Table Olives
Processing olives at
home is not difficult and we have a few recipes that are tried and tested
but we will warn you there are a few things that can go wrong. In order to
process your own olives for home use we would strongly advise you follow
- Hygiene - vitally important that
everything you use is spotlessly clean.
- Sort the olives carefully and
discard any that are bird pecked, bruised, diseased or otherwise not
- Keep to consistent colours and
sizes or the olives will not all be ready at the same time.
- Sterilise all your equipment
prior to starting
- If in doubt - throw it out!
- Measure your brine using a
refractometer or a hydrometer to make sure you have the correct amount
of salt - too little and there is a real chance of bacterial spoilage,
too much and the skins will come off the olives leaving a mush.
- Prepare all the jars, lids,
bottles, marinades, herbs and spices before you start the process.
- Use cooking salt, not table salt,
rock salt, sea salt or salt with added iodine. Just simple cooking
- Make sure the water supply is
potable - tank water can often be contaminated with micro-organisms
that may cause serious problems.
- If you want to speed up the
processing, either break open the olives with a mallet of slit them
with a sharp knife - but be careful.
- Green olives will take longer to
process than black.
- Large olives will take longer to
process than small.
- Solid olives will take longer to
process than slit.
- Slit olives will take longer to
process than cracked.
- Once in the jar processing may
take 3 weeks or as long as 12 months depending on these variable
There are two stages in preparing
olives for eating:
- Getting the bitterness out of raw
olives. This is generally done by either rinsing the olives in fresh
water daily until the olives are edible, or by adding salt to the
water and holding the olives under water for a few days / weeks until
the bitterness is leeched out by the salt.
- Once they taste okay the next
step is to preserve the olives in jars for eating later. The jars
should contain either a simple salt brine marinade, but can also
include vinegar, herbs and spices - to taste.
Yeast will form on the surface of
the water at various stages - this is a light, fluffy white substance and
is not harmful, so wash it off. If other colours form on the surface of
the brine this could well indicate spoilage. If you add a layer of oil to
float on top of the olives and brine (vegetable oil is fine) you should
not get the yeast forming.