Yesterday, I pickled my first batch of Green Olives!!
Pickled Green Olives are a table staple across the Middle East region. We serve pickled green olives for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Olives and olive oil are part of our tradition and culture. The olive tree is not only valued for it’s beauty and fruit, but is also considered a sacred and blessed tree.
Olive trees have been cultivates in this region for centuries and there is historical evidence that olive oil was traded as early as 3000 B.C. Throughout the hills of Jordan you will see olive groves that are thousands of years old. They were planted by the Romans!!
Most of the olive trees that exist on earth are in the Mediterranean region. Where I live, olive trees are planted on the sidewalks of most roads in the city, and there is hardly a house that doesn’t have at least one olive tree planted in the garden. I live in an apartment building with no garden, but we have four olive trees planted on the sidewalk in front of the building.
Usually, olives are not picked from the trees until the first rain comes and washes the trees and quenches their thirst after a long, hot, dry summer. We had our first big rain this week, so the picking season started and now all the market is filled with green olives ready to be pickled. Later this months, farmers will start taking their fruit to extract pure olive oil.
Green and black olives come from the same tree, The black ones are the ripened fruit that were left on the trees longer. They are softer and filled with more oil.
Both green and black olive fruits are pickled in this region, but the recipe for Pickled Green Olives differs from the recipe for Pickled Black Olives. Today’s recipe is for Pickled green olives which I learned from my friend Rula. She get’s full credit for it, as the recipe was so perfect, I didn’t even bother with trying other variations!!
Pickled Green Olives Mediterranean Style Recipe
Preparation time: 90 min
4 kilograms green olives
10 large lemons or limes
200 grams chili peppers (I use the green peppers)
1 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice; keep skin
1 1/3 cup olive oil
8 cups water
2/3 cup coarse salt
Pickling jars with a total capacity of 8 liters
How to make Pickled Green Olives:
- Select freshly harvested, un-bruised green olives for pickling. I like to pickle large olive fruit variety, but other varieties work as well.
- Place the olives in the sink basin or large bowl and wash well. Discard bruised and rotten fruit. I usually buy 4 kilos of which about 100-200 grams are discarded (the recipe takes that into consideration). If you find that you discarded much more fruit, adjust the other ingredients accordingly.
- With a knife, make 2 diagonal cuts on each fruit. Cut deep until the knife reaches the seed. You can also crack the olives by crushing then with a heavy tool. In our region, there are special machines that do that. I prefer the clean and neat look of sliced olives.
- Place the olives in a large glass or plastic bowl. Fill with cold water to cover all the olives. Set aside for 4 hours. After that, discard the water, and fill the bowl again with cold water to cover the olives. Leave for 4 additional hours before you discard the water.
Note: we soak olives in water because olives have a bitter taste that we want to wash out. Some recipes call for soaking for several days. In our region we don’t soak it that long. Some soak it overnight or for a day. Over-soaking the olives can result in very soft pickled olives that loose there shape and taste. You certainly don’t want tasteless olives! Soaking the olives for a shorter period will mean that part of the di-bittering process occurs during the pickling time, so the fruit will need more time before they are ready to be consumed. I prefer NOT to soak my olives more than 8 hours maximum. I also prepare a batch that I only soaked for 4 hours for consumption during the later part of the year after we finish the 8-hour batch.
- After you’ve soaked the olives for 8 hours, changing the water half-time, your olives are now ready to be pickled.
- Heat 2 cups of water until boiling point. Switch off the fire, add the salt and mix well to dissolve. Add remaining 6 cups of water and mix. Set aside to cool. You will notice that the brine is salty enough that a raw egg will float to the top.
- Chop the 10 lemons (pulp and skin), into medium sized slices. In our region, lemons and lime are grouped together; they even go by the same name. So use whichever you prefer.
- Chop the hot green peppers into large chunks. You may increase or decrease the amount of hot peppers according to taste. The amount called for in the recipe gives a nice, hot, tangy flavor that is not overwhelmingly spicy. If your kids are too young and not used to spicy food, I suggest you cut it back and only use 2/3 of the amount called for.
- Place the washed and drained green olives in a large bowl. Add the fresh lemon juice (remember not to discard the skins), the olive oil, sliced lemons and sliced peppers. Using your hands mix all the ingredients well.
- Fill the olives- lemon-pepper mix into the pickling jars pressing well on the olives. Once you filled the jars, you will notice that the bowl that you mixed the olives in contains a lot of brine. DON’T DISCARD IT!!!
- Add the water brine (it should have cooled by now) to the lemon-oil brine left in the bowl. Mix with spoon.
- With the bottom of a cup, press the olives in the jars down.
- Pour the brine mixture onto jars filled with olives until all the fruit is covered. The amount of brine you prepared should be just right. If insufficient, prepare some more (for each cup of water add 1 1/2 tablespoon coarse salt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix well).
- With the bottom of a cup, press the olives down again.
- Remember the lemon skins from the lemon juice, I told you not to discard! Slice them into large pieces and place on top of the pickled olives to cover. You can also use vine leaves.
- Tightly close the jars and store until olives are ready. You know the green olives are ready when the fruit changes color and you stop seeing any bubbles in the marinate. Green olives that were soaked in water for a shorter period than 8 hours will need to be marinated for a LONGER period to remove the bitterness before the pickled green olives are ready for consumption. Pickled Green Olives that were not soaked in water at all, need about 5 - 6 months to be ready.
Hope you enjoyed today’s easy recipe: Pickled Green Olives Mediterranean Style; traditional Middle Eastern food. Bon appetite.
Do you prefer green or black pickled olives?
اضغط الرابط لقراءة وصفة كيس الزيتون الأخضر باللغة العربية