Preserved olives

I have a passion for olives; ever since my arrival in Beirut, I have been eating so many every day that I decided to limit my intake to twenty a day.

Um Elias, a seasoned farmer from the Chouf mountains, told me I could pick them early and pickle them; after trying hers, I decided to follow suit.

If you are lucky enough to have an olive tree, you can pick them early, like I did; follow  this method and obtain delicious olives in about a week’s time, without the excessive salt that is characteristic of the store-bought ones. The taste of these olives is superior to any olives available commercially.

First step:

  1. Pick some olives from the tree; place them in a bowl and cover the bowl with water. Drain the water the next morning and add some more water; the water you will drain will be dark and full of dust; keep filling with water and draining until the water is clear. This will take 2 or 3 days or even longer (I stretched this for about 5 days).
  2. Take a mallet or a stone and with a firm stroke, smash the olives, one at a time. A rock is the best tool for this, but a meat mallet or something similar will work.

Second step:

  1. Place the olives in a jar, interspersed with a handful of coarse salt and cover with olive oil. I used about 1/3 cup of salt for about 14  ounces of olives, as I am mindful of my sodium intake. Close the jar and set it aside for 4 days or more. Enjoy!

A quote from the impressionist painter, Auguste Renoir

” Just look at the light on the olive trees… sparkling like a diamond; it is pink, it is blue; and the sky playing through it. It makes you crazy”.

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39 Comments

  1. Posted September 16, 2010 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Mmmhh, I love green olives!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. Posted September 16, 2010 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    This seems the height of luxury to pick your own olives and preserve and eat them!!
    Lebanon is a magical place, indeed!

  3. Posted September 16, 2010 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    I remember how remarkably different the olives tasted in Greece; it was a revelation!

  4. Posted September 16, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Quelle chance !
    Pouvoir choisir ses olives, quel luxe! Je t’envie.
    A bientôt.

  5. Posted September 16, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    A-MA-ZING. Love this. So happy for you that you have olive trees!

  6. Posted September 16, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Love green olives. We call them tsakistes (cracked) and when the bitterness is removed we add garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and ground corriander seeds. I am sure you will love them. Are you still coming to Greece or have you changed your plans? I will be away to Cyprus next week but do hope to see you.

  7. Posted September 16, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I love olives too!!!
    It’s a tradition of our family to make olive oil and preserved olives every year!!!
    My favorites are those made with vinegar or with garlic and dried tomatoes…delicious…

  8. Posted September 16, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    The olives of Lebanon are excellent.Enjoy if you live in Lebanon.

  9. Posted September 16, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I get imported bottles of green and black olives at the Middle Eastern store in Los Angeles… I guess they travel well. :) Thanks for the recipe.

  10. Posted September 16, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know of a place where Olive grows this side of the world. Sadly its going to be bottled variety for me.

  11. Posted September 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    I would love to preserve my own olives! And I agree, they do look gorgeous on the tree. :)

  12. Posted September 16, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Oh, what I would give for an olive tree!

  13. Posted September 16, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    These olives are so pretty! I can’t imagine being able to pick my own right off of the vine.

  14. Posted September 16, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    I am going to have to find a place to pick olives! I have never thought to preserve them myself, but how fun!

  15. Posted September 16, 2010 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful recipe, I very much indeed love olives and eat them nearly as frequently as you… Another must try :) Now I just need to find fresh olives…

  16. Posted September 17, 2010 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    a great how to post hows things sorry its been a while Rebecca

  17. Posted September 17, 2010 at 1:27 am | Permalink

    How wonderful to have your own olives – I wish I could try them. I spent four years in Nyons, southern France, which is famous for its olives and no others have ever tasted the same to me. You see “olives de Nyons” on sale here sometimes at markets and even packaged in organic shops but they are always a bit dry-looking and many are dull brown instead of glossy black. Now I shall be dreaming of olives all day!

  18. SYLVIA
    Posted September 17, 2010 at 2:32 am | Permalink

    This is serious childhood throwback for me, and was a staple in my house growing up, I have a memory of my mother cracking the olives brine them in salt bath to remove some of the bitterns, then serves them by adding pomegranate molasses, pepper paste, and olive oil, it is my favorite. Olives have a high vitamin E content, a powerful anti-aging antioxidant, Joumana, just like you we should all be eating the good fat everyday for the health of our heart, brain, skin, and hair.

  19. Posted September 17, 2010 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    I love olives too…olives here in Europe are different from where I am from…we ate lots of preserved olives, with all different kinds of spices, herbs and methods.every year, my mom has to TNT me 5kg of one kind of local herbal olives all the way from the China to Germany. Unfortunately my husband doesn’t like olives at all.

  20. Posted September 17, 2010 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Wow, how cool is this. Unfortunately I can’t grow olives in my neck of the woods, but once in a while I see raw olives in the store and never thought to cure them myself. You’ve insprired me to give it a go, do youthink it will work out well given they are not likely as fresh?

  21. Posted September 17, 2010 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    I absolutely love olives! Great post!

  22. Posted September 17, 2010 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    This is very interesting to know they preserve olives. I just never knew this. Thanks Joumana for enlighting me once again!

  23. Posted September 17, 2010 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Of course I don’t have an olive tree, but it was fun watching you make this, Joumana!

  24. Posted September 17, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    I cannot imagine how good homemade preserved olives must really be. What a wonderful opportunity you have there, Joumana! Are you going to put up a year’s supply.:) Probably not, as you now need to take so much time from your day just looking pretty (big grin)
    Why do they need to be smashed? Do you remove the seed then? Are they smashed to absorb the salt better?
    Valerie

  25. Posted September 17, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    I have a passion for olives, too, but I do not come from “olive country”, so I do not have the possibility to preserve them on my own (like figs in your previous post). Imported olives in Polish shops are really bad. Good, that I found out in France, how the olive should taste …

  26. Joumana
    Posted September 17, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    @Andy: Personally, because I love olives so much, I would try it; why not! If it does not work out with the olives you have available there, you can always recycle the oil.
    @Valerie: when you smash the olives, you don’t pull out the seeds; smashing them makes them absorb the salt and oil better and cure.

  27. Posted September 17, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    How much do I wish I had an olive tree. These sound like nothing we can buy in a store. I can see why it would be hard to stick to just 20 :)

  28. Posted September 17, 2010 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    The only time I have tasted olive is on the pizza!I guess this type must taste reat.We get frsh olives here and I have never given them a second glance.Maybe I will pickup some to try pickling :)

  29. Posted September 18, 2010 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    yummy! you’re so lucky to have an olive tree to pick! it’s also interesting that all cultures have some fruits that call for brine. we pluck baby mangoes and preserve them in brine, we eat them as is or make a pickle with chilly and mustard paste.

  30. Posted September 18, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    It must be great to be able to pick and preserve fresh olives. Nice!

  31. Posted September 19, 2010 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Wow, thank you so much Joumana! I have been considering what to do with the olives in the garden here in the south of France, but wanted something a bit less time-consuming. You are a gem!

  32. Posted September 19, 2010 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never preserved or used fresh olives before, and I am starting to see them in the markets here. Must give this recipe a try, I’ve been wanting to preserve olives for a long time, but the last time I went to give it a try, I just missed their season.

  33. Posted September 20, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    This sounds and looks fabulous….if only I had an olive tree :-(

  34. Posted September 21, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Joumana,

    I too adore olives. Olives of all kinds! I am a frequent visitor of the olive bar at my local WholeFoods store. My fridge is always stocked up with olives from all over.
    I tried to cure my own last year. They soaked in brine for about 4 months. I changed the water once a week but guess what? The bitterness never went away. It was a big disappointment. I should try this year again with olive oil. You recipe seems much simpler to prepare. Thanks! Heguiberto

  35. Posted September 22, 2010 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    Catching up on your wonderful posts. I bookmarked this one immediately since I have three olive trees in my yard and have never taken advantage of their fruit (and I love olives!). Will have to try this. I always thought that making anything out of my olives would be too laborious but this seems so do-able. Thanks!

  36. Posted September 22, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    They sell olives straight from trees here at the market sometimes and I have always wanted to make my own. You have inspired me!

  37. Rajah
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    rajahis awesome

  38. Rajah
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    Rajah likes olives mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm anyone got any olives

  39. Rajah
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

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