Tuesday, October 8

Curing Olives: Part 1

For the past couple of years, I have admired the beautiful jars of olives, that Tyson's Aunt Cindy has cured.  I let her know that I was interested in learning the ins and outs of curing olives.  I had no idea the extensiveness of the process, but was enthralled in learning. I was extremely intimidated, once I realized all that was entailed, but I wasn't going to let that stop me.  I spent a morning with Cindy at her house, where she explained the step by step process.  My respect for her grew a million fold, once I learned the labor that went into those olives.  

Her grandmother was from Italy and cured olives throughout the years.  Over the years Cindy learned the process and now cures her own olives every year.  I was so grateful she took the time and patience to teach me the process.  I love learning new skills and jump at the chance for any opportunity to expand my homemaking skills.  

Fresno is known for its rich abundance of agriculture.  I never even knew what an olive tree looked like before moving here.  My curiosity sparked when I noticed these gorgeous, unique looking trees.  I immediately asked Tyson what that was, when he informed me that it was an olive tree.  I now feel like I have a little connection to those trees and hope to have a couple of my own one day.

I was planning on picking my own olives this year, but I had already missed my chance. All of the tree's I was going to pick from, had already turned black.  Luckily there is a farm here in Fresno that sales olives by the pound.  They pick them fresh for you and they look beautiful.

Saturday morning Cindy came over to my house and we started the sorting process.  We had almost 27 pounds of olives to sift through.  You end up touching each olive, looking for blemishes, holes or stems.

^^^ I couldn't get over the vibrant color of green, that was bursting from the box. ^^^

After sorting through the olives we only found a handful of bad ones.  We then took the good olives into my laundry room and rinsed them clean.

 We transferred them into a cooler where they began the leaching process. 

The most intimidating thing about curing olives is working with the Lye.  Lye is a poisonous chemical that pulls the bitter taste out of the olives.

Once the Lye was mixed we added the remaining water.  We placed the olives in the water, covered them with parchment paper and let the Lye go to work.

You have to stir the olives for 12 hours, every 2 hours.  This prevents any brown spots from forming, when the olives touch for a long period of time.  I checked my olives after the first 6 hours had past and the lye had already made its way through to the pit.  When cutting into the olive a buttery color appeared.  

I drained the water and started the rinsing process.  This process entails switching the water 2 times a day for 3-4 days.  As soon as the water turns clear, the Lye is gone and you can begin the canning process.

Saturday night I didn't sleep very well.  I dreamed I had ruined all my olives and was devastated.  I woke up early and headed straight out to my cooler of olives.  The moment I put my hand into the water and picked up one of the olives, I knew my nightmare had came true.  My olives were complete mush.  Not just the one in my hand, but all 26 pounds of them.  I walked into my house with my head hanging down.  I went into my room and had a pity party for myself.  Not going to lie, I may have shed a tear or two.  I was sad, my hard work had went down the drain.  I had to dump all of it in the trash.  I felt bad for the money that I had spent on the olives and for all of the time Cindy had spent teaching me.  I couldn't wrap my head around what went wrong.  The night before they were perfect.  

After talking with Cindy we think the heat got to the Lye.  I also don't think I drained all of the lye completely, when I was in the rinsing process.  I wanted to throw in the towel after all that had happened, but I didn't want to be one of those people that give up when things don't work out the first time.  When I get something set in my mind, I have a hard time getting it out. I envisioned all of my masons jars, filled to the brim with green olives and tied off with red and white bakers twine.  I wanted my Christmas gifts this year to be extra special.  So with that in mind, I am hoping to be able to try again.  If the olives allow and the stars aline, I will have my Christmas wish!

I had to keep these quotes in mind when I was feeling like a complete failure.


"Failure is the opportunity to begin again more wisely."
-Henry Ford

"Many of life's failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."

"Sometimes what we call failure is really just that necessary struggle called learning."

"Perseverance is failing nineteen times and succeeding the twentieth."
-Julie Andrews


This was defiantly a learning process and taught me more than just the ropes of curing olives.  I hope to do better next time and not make the same mistakes.  Crossing my fingers, this next time will be the one.
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1 comment:

  1. This looks so fun! I would binge on olives all day if I could! Hope you get it right and I can reap the benefit if your hard work! :)