Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Heirloom Foods: Calabrian Olives- Changing the Water

My friends Lisa and Louis have been teaching me how to cure my own Calabrian olives using Louis' family recipe.  And they've been gracious enough to record each step in the process on video.  Now that they've shown me how to whack the olives and take the pits out of the olives, it's time to soak the olives and change the water.  After a few hours, the previous clean water turns dark and murky, so I'm glad they've sent a new video to show me what it's supposed to look like.

Turns out, I've been doing it wrong.  Yesterday I innocently asked Lisa if my olives were supposed to be bubbling and making little popping noises.  They aren't.  She asked me if I was changing the water twice a day and I had to admit that something had been lost in the translation.  I had only been changing the water ONCE a day.  Luckily, Lisa says she thinks my olives will still be ok.  But this conversation reminded me that I didn't know how to figure out when the olives were ready to be drained and packed in olive oil.  This is Lisa's response.
Taste them, the bitterness should be largely gone, but if there is a bit of bitterness it's ok. They should not get mushy though so don't leave them in the water for too long... it is a delicate balance. Then the water has to be squeezed out as much as possible before dressing them in oil and spices and salt. We just ordered a press but previously have used a ricer or you can just squeeze out the water using old towels.
Thanks again, Lisa and Louis.  The process continues!