Jul 012010

Olives straight from the tree need to be experienced once in your lifetime, to show you how incredibly bitter they are! The process of curing – or pickling – olives is needed to draw the bitterness away from the olive flesh and make it edible.

The process is different for green and black olives as the black ones are on their way to becoming more mature than the green. Note that all olives start green and ripen to black or purple. Click here to read about how to cure green olives.


Make a slit in the black olives. Place olives in a plastic tub, add cooking salt to cover generously. Toss through to coat the olives. Cover with a heavy weight.

Every day, repeat the tossing and weighting until the olives are shrivelled. Rinse one off to taste for bitterness. If still bitter, continue to soak in the brine that has developed.

Once de-bittered, place the olives in a plastic colander, and put the weight back over the olives. The brine collected should drain from this.

Rinse briefly when they are ready.

Dry excess moisture off the olives in a cooling oven, dehydrator or spread outside in the sun.

When dried, lightly toss with olive oil and store them in either vacuum sealed bags or zip lock bags in the freezer.

Serve dressed in oil, and add other condiments. (Olives done this way have a very intense salty flavour, and are good added to a meat dish or gently warmed and served as part of an antipasto platter).

Kalamata style

I call it Kalamata style because of the vinegar notes when you eat the olives, which is how the commercial Kalamata olives are cured.

Cut two slits in each olive and then place these into a tub filled with water to cover. Keep the olives submerged and change the water every day, for 6 days.

On the next day, instead of re-filling with water, pour over some plain white vinegar (the cheap no-name brands will do) and leave overnight.

On this final day, drain off the vinegar and place the olives in clean glass jars. Measure how much brine is needed to be made and make up a 10% solution of non-iodised salt to water.

Fill the jars of olives with the brine solution and then pour in a layer of olive oil to cover the top of the jar. Seal tightly and store in a cool, dry, dark place until all the bitterness has gone. This may take anything from 6-24 months, depending on the size of the olive and how ripe it was at the time of picking.


Maria Ciavarella

  8 Responses to “Curing black olives”

  1. Do you have a video? I dont know where to put the slits. I made a patch of black-purple olives off my tree. Let them set in the brine for over a year. I cracked it open. the aroma was heavenly! I bit one – yuk bitter as H#$l! What did I do wrong? I am ready to try again. I have the olives picked and in water.

    • It shouldn’t really matter where the slits are. I make two slits lengthways opposite each other and down to the stone.

  2. Hi team, very new to this and have an olive tree in the back yard, when I pick them they give off a purple juice. Is this ok?

  3. Hello Maria,
    Where you suggest placing the olives in zip locked bags and freezing them – can I put them in jars with olive marinade instead?

  4. Thanks great information. I will be definitely giving a go. We have a very large olive tree growing in our backyard. Cheers Denise Granger.

  5. Thanks, Maria. That was very informative.

    I just need to get hold of some olives. I left behind my 50 year old olive tree in the back yard which provided bountiful amounts of olives.

    Kind regards.


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