Cured Olives (Olives Piquée)
Quantity: 3kg (6 lbs)
Here is a recipe to prepare your own cured olives. It only works with freshly harvested olives. You can't obtain fresh ones? Then read about the basics of olive curing, so you buy the right variety for your mediterranean dishes.
- 3 kg (6 lbs) freshly harvested Tanche olives or any other fresh high quality black olive
- 3 - 5 tbsp fine sea salt (don't use coarse salt)
- 1 teasp sariette (summer savory)
- 1 teasp taragon
- 1 teasp thyme
- 2 - 3 bay leaves
- 1 l (4 cups) olive oil
This is the recipe used in the Drôme Provençale for the black Tanche olives. Don't use this recipe for green olives. There are 3 steps we need to follow: pricking the olives, dry curing and marinating.
Pricking: To "pique" means to prick with a needle and this is what we do first. Each olive needs to be pricked several times with a small, sharp fork or toothpick so that the bitter juices can be extracted by the salt later. Here is a shortcut I learned from Élodie's husband who is in charge of the pique process: Take a champagne cork and insert a couple of toothpicks at the top part and you get a veritable porcupine. Suddenly the pique process is fun! Just pique away for 20 minutes and you are done with the 3 kg (6 lbs) of the freshly harvested black olives we want to prepare here.
Dry Curing: Place the pricked olives in a ceramic or plastic container, mixing them well with initially 2 tbsp salt. Place the open container in a dark, cool and airy place. Make sure that during the 10 - 15 day process you stir the olives well once a day. The 2nd day add another 1 tbsp. of salt. The 4th day taste for salt and add more if necessary. At the end of 15 days the olives should have lost their bitternes and have a slightly salty taste. Discard any purplish liquid that leached out of the olives. Don't rinse them under cold water.
Marinating: Place the olives in the marinade made of olive oil seasoned with sariette, taragon, thyme, bay leaves and laurel. Let them soak for 3 - 4 days in a cool place or the fridge. You can prepare the marinade using different combination of spices. Substitute one or more of the above spices with garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary, coriander or fennel seeds. You can also make it stronger by adding a larger quantity of spices. I like the quantity I listed above - you can still taste the olive proper.
Olives Piquées are relatively easy and quick to make. But they need to be kept in a dark, cool place and consumed within 2 - 3 months. Its not that the olives deteriorate, it's the olive oil which might get rancid. I put them in the fridge, where they last for 12 months until the next olive harvest.