Friday nights and b-grade movies. That’s what I associate with preparing olives. If it was a good movie, the job would never get done…
Each individual olive is slit from end to end, by the hundreds and hundreds, leaking dark harsh black stains onto your hands, they look good enough to eat, but NEVER! they are the most astringent and bitter tasting fruit on Gods green earth! Yuk! But somehow, I seem to chew one down every time.
When i moved to Omanawa Farm, near Mundulla, from the Kimberley, the first fruit trees i planted were 15 Kalamata Olives. 5 years down the track and i still need to pick from friends olive trees to fulfill the yearly quota even for our own personal use! I gladly pay with jars of olives for their own pantry!
What I have been told by the Italian man down the road who used to pick olives in Italy before he emigrated more than 40 years ago, is they only stumbled accidentally on the recipe for making olives edible. They were found washed up on a beach, and the pounding of the salty waves had made them edible and scrumptious. Therefore although the process is long and tedious, I eagerly make a brine every 3 to 7 days and rinse thoroughly each individual olive, and taste to see if it is finally edible. Then the olives are packed in salt for a week. Then the fun begins! The olives are put in a vinegar/olive oil solution with whatever herbs and spices are desired. We can’t go past thyme, garlic & chilli for a splash of colour and warmth.
Olives are a staple for nibbles, pizza and antipasto platters. Also great in potato salad, from an old American recipe.