I always prefer making things at home, I feel that I have all the control then. Green olives are one of those homemade things I love. Curing green olives is one of our preparations for Winter. You know a typical Turkish breakfast must have both black and green olives. We’ve learnt how to cure green olives from mom. We can’t find fresh green olives in Eskisehir, its extremely cold climate is not good for olive trees, so my parents send about 10 kilos of fresh olives from the South in Autumn, we cure them and have until the end of summer, so we never buy it from markets. I haven’t tried to make black olives. Yet! Mom II makes it for us every year, so we never have to buy its market version, either. I can hear what you say, “how lucky you are!”
Fresh olives are picked by hand in October in the South part of Turkey, so this month is the ideal month to cure green olives. My dad says that it’s very important to pick them with hands so that they are not damaged. If there are any olives which drop on the ground and damaged, these are kept separately and taken to olive oil factories. Producers sell their best crops at open markets and have the rest transformed into olive oil. Some producers even cure olives in jars and sell them at bazaar.
a stone as big as your hand or a mallet or a jar to smash olives
kosher salt or sea salt
1 tsp sugar
a raw egg just to be used for measuring
2-3 lemons, sliced
a plastic bag or cheesecloth
Start with smashing olives gently. Do not hit them very strongly, hitting once will be enough. We just want it to crack. If you see the seed, it’s fine.
Put the cracked olives in jars.
Fill jars completely with water.
Place a plastic bag or cheesecloth on the top as a weight to keep them submerged. Otherwise, olives on the top change color because of oxidation.
Renew its water everyday for 3 days.
On the 4th day, strain the water and keep the olives in the jar.
Put sliced lemons in it.
Now you know how much water is needed to fill your jars. Put it in a large bowl.
Here is mom's egg method to measure brine:
Add some kosher salt into water in the bowl. Mix it well.
Put a raw egg into the water. If the egg sinks, take it out, add extra salt into the water, mix and put the egg into it again.
If the egg doesn’t sink and hangs in the middle of the water, the amount of salt is fine.
Add 1 tsp sugar in the water and pour it in jars. Olives must be completely covered with water.
Finally, place a plastic bag or cheesecloth on the top to prevent olives from floating on the surface of water.
Wait it in a dry place away from sunlight for 10 days and then your homemade green olives are ready to eat!
We replace lemon with lemon salt, limon tuzu, something like sea salt but with much bigger grains. It has a very strong sour flavor and keeps olives firm. We use it for pickling too. You might find it in Turkish markets, but you can use lemon instead if you can’t.
Why do we add sugar? It helps olives keep their green color.