Crocker Village olive harvest meaty, tender

Cheri Davis and her husband, Ted Frink, watched the mature olive trees being transplanted throughout Crocker Village and spotted the ripe stone fruit clinging to the upper branches.

Cheri remembered how much fun she had with friends who taught her how to brine olives in salt water with herbs and spices. She and Ted returned with buckets and a ladder and harvested more than 4 gallons of olives.

Cheri hadn’t cured olives since she and Ted moved to Curtis Park more than 10 years ago. She researched brining Sevillano olives and chose two different recipes. One method took her two months from start to finish, the other four months. Both recipes were successful in creating unique flavors in the final product.

Neighborhood gourmand Bruce Pierini and his French language group recently tasted Cheri and Ted’s olives. Bruce found the olives meaty and tender with a tasty blend of garlic, vinaigrette and herbs with the right hint of salt and bitterness.

Cheri’s olives might be the first and last Crocker Village olives to be brined and eaten. From now on, the blossoms on the trees will be removed (by spraying them with water) to prevent new olives from growing. Cheri hopes that olives that don’t drop on the sidewalk can remain so neighbors can enjoy the next crop.

Sevillano olives two ways:

FERMENTED – best with mature (red or purplish-black) olives

  • Produces a richer-flavored olive, but takes three to eight months and can get messy.
  • Ferment in salt water/vinegar solution for three months, sitting in a dish (because the fermentation process will cause the container to overflow).
  • If they are still bitter, drain and refill with a new brine solution, and wait another month or two.
  • Repeat until the olives are sweet (no longer bitter).

WATER-CURED OLIVES – good for olives that are green to purplish-black

  • Takes two to six weeks. Flavor is not as rich but still delicious.
  • Make two slits down the length of each olive with a paring knife (if olives are green and firm, you can crack them with a mallet).
  • Cover the olives in fresh water with a weight or lid to keep them submerged.
  • Change the water daily for two to six weeks until you are satisfied with the flavor. It’s OK if you miss a day here or there.

Both recipes:

Once you’re satisfied with the sweetness of your olives, drain the water (or brine, if you used the fermentation method) and make a “finishing brine”: For every cup of water, add 2 ounces of salt and 2 tablespoons of vinegar.

This is also the time to add flavorings. I used garlic, rosemary, chili flakes, and a slice of lemon. They will pick up their new flavors after a couple of days. Kept submerged in the brine, the olives will last at least six months or longer if kept refrigerated.

If you find the olives too salty, let them soak in clean water for four to eight hours before eating. Eat them as is, or sprinkle with fresh herbs and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Tips:

  • Sevillano olives can get soft and mushy with some olive recipes. They cannot handle the same amount of salt as other types, such as Kalamata or Mission olives.
  • Use pickling salt (pure salt with no additives) – best to weigh the salt, as different types of salt will measure out differently.
  • Always use fresh, firm and unbruised fruit.
  • Always clean jars and lids before use.
  • Always wipe the rims of the jars well to ensure the seals are as tight as they can be.
  • If using the fermentation method:
    • Make sure all utensils are clean. Do not use copper, brass, iron or galvanized utensils, which will cause a chemical reaction with the olives and taint the flavor.
    • Make sure your containers for brining are clean, unchipped and made from non-reactive materials – glass, stainless steel, enamelware, stoneware, porcelain, earthenware, terracotta or plastic.
  • Make sure the olives are completely submerged in the brine. If any olives are above the brine, they will turn brown.    

Written by John Mathews and posted on Tuesday, July 13th, 2021

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