Green olives are great snacks that you can easily brine at home. Do you know how to brine olives? You just need water and salt to pickle them and then some patience to wait. Homemade brined olives are much tastier and healthier than the store bought ones. Why don’t you try it before fall ends?
Green Olives in Turkish Cuisine
Have you ever heard about Turkish breakfast? Olives are staple for us in the morning in addition to lots of other foods like cheeses, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, eggs, pastries, jams, butter and newly brewed black tea.
Although olives are considered as breakfast food in Turkey, I love to snack on them between meals too. Just like the Greek do. Olives make awesome appetizers with a generous amount of olive oil on them. You can even garnish them with some dried or fresh thyme and lemon slices. Even some hot red pepper flakes would add an amazing touch on them.
You know what? We can even make a super tasty light lunch with green olives using mom’s easy olive salad recipe.
That’s why I was so excited when I saw the first products of the year at our local market last week. We bought about 10 pounds and started brining them. Can’t wait to taste it once their bitterness goes away! Do you know how to brine olives? It is a fun activity that you can do as a family. Kids love cracking green olives!
Brining olives is not as hard as you think. It is as simple as water and salt. You just need some patience because you need to wait more than 10 days. I promise, it’s worth every single day.
Preserving Olives In Jars
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, just like preserving grape leaves.
I learnt how to cure green olives from mom. Mom picks olives from the tree with her hands every fall and preserves them in large jars. I find it more practical to store them in small jars though. Depending on the amount of olives you have, you can decide on the size of the jar.
Unfortunately, we can’t find fresh green olives in our city, its extremely cold climate is not good for olive trees, so my parents send about 10 kilos of fresh olives from the South of the country during fall, we cure them in small jars and keep until the end of summer, so we never buy it from markets.
How To Choose The Best Green Olives
When buying fresh green olives for brining, keep these in mind:
- They shouldn’t be damaged. It’s perfect if the olives are picked by hand.
- They should look firm enough. Don’t use any mushy olives.
- They shouldn’t be overripe. If you are planning to brine green olives, make sure they are green. The darker colors show that olives are riper. You can find the best green olives in late September and October.
My dad says that it’s very important to pick them from the tree 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.
How To Brine Olives At Home
It is like pickling the olives. Have you ever pickled vegetables at home? You know it is super easy. This recipe calls for a similar process. Without vinegar though. The recipe calls for water and salt only, with three easy steps.
Related: Gherkin Pickle Recipe
Prepare The Olives
Wash the olives under water very well and then crack the olives. You can use a mallet, the bottom of a jar (just like mom does) or simply a stone to do this. Just smack the mallet once or maybe twice to crack them. It’s enough if the flesh tears. Also, try not to mash them or damage their pits. I saw a device at the local market doing this for you and I tried it but it was a complete frustration. Almost all the olives were mashed, not cracked at all. The best way is to do it yourself one by one.
Another method to prepare the green olives for brining is to slit them with a knife. It is not my favorite method though because I think olives remain firmer when cracked.
Cure The Olives In Water To Remove Bitterness
Put the olives in a big jar or in separate jars. Pour cold water over them and make sure they are all covered. It is a good idea to weigh them down with something like a small plate or grape leaves (that’s what my mom does). Let them sit for 10 days, changing the water at least once a day during this time. To change the water, drain the olives, put them back in the jar and fill it with cold water again. After ten days, taste one of the olives and keep changing the water for another week if it’s still too bitter.
Prepare The Brine
It is simply the combination of water and salt. Mom never measures their ratio, she uses the egg method and I love it. Put water in a large pot. Add some salt into it and mix well. Place an unbroken raw egg in that water. If the egg floats, you have the right ratio. If it doesn’t float, add more salt and test again.
Put the cured olives in small jars or in a large one. Fill up the jars with the brine so that the olives are completely covered. Place a cheesecloth over them to prevent air from touching the olives. Cover the jars with their lids and let sit for about a week. They’ll be ready to eat after this process.
How Long Can You Keep Olives In Brine?
You can keep them for more than a year in a place away from sunlight. They don’t go bad in a short time. Thanks to salt, they can stay fresh and firm for a long time.
How To Prepare Brined Olives To Eat
You can’t eat olives straight from the tree. They are not edible unless you cure them. It is not a good idea to eat them straight from the jar after the brining process, either. You will probably find them too salty. The best solution to remove the excessive salt is to soak the olives in water before eating.
So take as many olives as you need from the jar using a slotted spoon. Put them in a bowl and pour cold water over them. Rinse and repeat for a few times. Finally let the olives sit in water for 15 minutes and drain. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over them and serve. My favorite way of eating green olives is dipping a little bread into that olive oil and then eat a few olives at a time. YUM!
Note: The rest of the olives can remain in the jar for a few weeks. You can remove olives from it whenever you need.
Below is an image from the original post that was published in 2012 (sorry for the photography quality). It was made by mom in a large size jar of 11 pounds.
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How To Brine Olives
Brining olives at home is so easy. It just needs water, salt and some patience.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 1 jar 1x
- Category: Preserving
- Method: Brining
- Cuisine: Turkish
- 2 pound green olives
- 3 liters water
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt or sea salt
- Using a mallet or the bottom of a jar, crack the olives. If you see the pit, it’s fine. Make sure you don’t damage the pit.
- Put the cracked olives in jars.
- Fill jars completely with cold water.
- Place a small plate or cheesecloth or grape leaves on the top as a weight to keep the olives submerged. Otherwise, olives on the top change color because of oxidation.
- Change the water in the jars once or twice a day for ten days or until the bitterness of olives is gone.
- Drain the olives for the last time when they are not bitter any more (taste one olive to understand this).
- Put the olives back into jars and prepare the brine.
- Pour cold water in a large bowl. You can decide the amount depending on your jars. You can start with 2 liters for two big jars. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt and mix well. To understand if it is the right ratio, place an unbroken raw egg into the water. It is the perfect ratio if the egg floats. Add more salt if it doesn’t float.
- Pour it in jars. Olives must be completely covered with water.
- Place a cheesecloth on the top to prevent olives from floating on the surface of water.
- Keep the jars in a dark place. Ready to eat after about a week.
The nutrition facts are assumed for canned olives.
Keywords: how to brine olives, curing olives, how to preserve olives
This post was originally published in 2012 and has been updated with new information and new pictures.