Thursday, December 2, 2010

Heirloom Foods: Our First Taste of Homemade Calabrian Olives

Bland, But Grand:  Our First Taste of Homemade Calabrian Olives, December 1, 2010.
My husband warned me not to title this blog post "Bland But Grand" because nobody would read it.  I have to say I already regret listening to him because it's a perfect description of my homemade olives.

I started making Calabrian-style olives a month ago and we've been waiting to try the finished product ever since.  I got the recipe (and the raw olives) from my friends Lisa and Louis, and they sent amazing instructions on how to do it, including video tutorials!  I figured I couldn't go wrong.  But my initial results were disappointing.  We tried them the day I jarred them, but they were so tasteless that we declared them "unfinished" and decided to let them fester in their juices for a while.

Ever since I published the complete recipe, people have been writing to me to ask how my olives turned out.  I've been embarrassed to admit that my husband said they "tasted like cellulose".  When I finally told Lisa that I thought I'd done something wrong, she said that when made correctly, Calabrian olives are "bland, but grand" and have a subtle flavor.  So we decided to try them again.  

My version of Calabrian olives have been soaking in a mixture of garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, dried oregano, garlic, and olive oil for a little over three weeks.  I figured that with this aromatic combination, they certainly must have absorbed some kind of flavor.  They did!  My Calabrian olives are indeed "Bland, But Grand".  Louis suggested that I spice my olives conservatively, which seemed like a reasonable idea, but now that I've tried the finished olives, I think I'll experiment by adding different amounts of each ingredient to each of my six jars of olives.  I may even give a few of these "experiments" as holiday presents.  It will be like a Russian Roulette of olive-curing.  Who knows which batch will be great and which will be fit for the dogs.  (Sorry dog-lovers.)  I don't think I have the nerve to give them to Lisa and Louis.  But they wouldn't want them anyway.  They already have over 70 pounds of their own Calabrian olives stashed in their refrigerator.