Last year I noticed a couple of small olive trees on my way to work. The olives were ripe and dropping onto the side walk. Being the mad forager that I am, I gathered up a small pile and looked into curing them. This is the method that has worked best for me and I am now on my third batch of olives with the itch to gather more this week. I found a new tree and littered with small black olives and with this method we should be well olived all year long.They are richly delicious, salty, umami and teasingly bitter.
1 pounds ripe black olives
.5 pound kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon/15 ml extra-virgin olive oil
1- Rinse the olives clean with water and drain them well in a colander. With a fork prick each olive with small holes.
2- Spread a 1/4-inch thick layer of the salt over the bottom of a glass jar. Add a layer of olives on top of the salt.
3- Cover the layer of olives with more salt. Add another layer of olives. Repeat until all the olives are completely covered in salt. Leave at room temperature, stirring the olives or shaking the jar once a day and adding more salt if necessary to keep the olives covered.
4- The olives will start to exude their bitter juices and the salt will turn into a moist paste. If it becomes totally liquid, drain the olives and return them to the container with fresh layers of salt.
5- After 2 weeks rinse the salt off of an olive and taste it. If it is still too bitter, continue to cure the olives, adding salt to absorb the juices, and testing the flavor about once a week. When ready, olives cured by the dry salt method will have shriveled up and have a very mildly bitter but pleasant flavor.
6-Once the olives taste perfect rinse off the salt. Spread the olives out in a single layer and let them dry off completely before proceeding. This can take several hours (overnight is fine).
7- Toss the cured olives with 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Store at room temperature for up to 1 month, in the refrigerator for up to a year. Enjoy by them selves, in salads or in your favorite olive dishes!