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Preservation Tip: Don’t Let Those Olives Hit the Ground

Right now is the perfect time to harvest fresh ripe olives! All olives need treatment before they are palatable. One of the easiest ways to cure olives is the ‘Oil-Cured’ method, also known as, the ‘Dry Salt-Cured’ method.


Fresh mature, fully colored (dark red to purplish black) olives
Salt (kosher, pickling, or sea salt)*
A pillowcase or other sack
Time (4-6 weeks)
Airtight, food-grade plastic or glass containers (for storing)
*How much salt? A good ratio is about 1 pound (1 ½ cups) of salt to 2 pounds of fresh black olives. *Smaller black olives work better with this method; larger ones will soften too much during the curing process.


  1. Harvest or procure desired amount of fresh ripe black olives.
  2. Wash and discard any bruised, damaged, or soft olives.
  3. Slit each olive with a knife to ensure the salt is able to penetrate the olive’s skin (the salt pulls out the moisture from the olives, taking with it the olives bitterness).
  4. Pour the salt into the pillowcase, then the olives, and mix them all around so the olives are fully covered with salt.
  5. Hang the pillowcase somewhere that black, dripping olive juice won’t matter. You can do this outside. Weather doesn’t matter too much. A bit of rain will not hurt, but if it does rain be sure to check that the salt levels did not drop and that olives are still well covered.
  6. Attend to the olives once a week to mix them around and to make sure they are still well covered with salt.
  7. Olives should be done between 4-6 weeks. The olives should look wrinkly and taste salty and slightly bitter.
  8. When olives are ready, pour them over a screen to sift out the salt (you may dip olives in boiling water momentarlity to remove the remainig salt if desired). Arrange the cured olives in one layer on a cookie sheet and allow to dry overnight at room temperate.
  9. When they’ve dried overnight, mix the olives with about 1/2 pound of salt for every 4-5 pounds of cured olives or 1 pound of salt to each 10 pounds of cured olives. Mix the olives and salt thoroughly and pack them into clean airtight containers. Store in a cool place and use within 1 month, or refrigerate up to 6 months, or freeze up to 1 year (olive tend to become rancid if stored longer).
  10. Time to Eat!
  11. When you are ready to eat your cured olives, boil your desired amount for a few seconds to remove some of the saltiness. Boiling will also plump up the olives a little. You don’t have to do this, as the olives are excellent either way. Next you can completely submerge your cured olives in oil, or just coat them in it. This is the time if you wanted to include chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme or oregano. A little crushed red chili flakes, lemon zest and garlic are also nice, as well as some cumin or black pepper. Once olives are marinated, store in refrigerator and eat the olives within a few weeks or so.

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