December 30, 2012

Preserving Tuscany- Salt Cured Olives

As you know, I am always inspired at the market. When we bought our tiny 1/3 of a farmhouse in the hills outside of Certaldo, they wanted about $10,000 for 10 olive trees and an extra piece of land in the back of our house.  I don't know about you, but I can buy a LOT of olive oil for $10,000 and taking care of olive trees for this city girl and her hubby, means WORK. So, we let that go and I can buy incredible olive oil directly from the local cooperative. 

I live in the middle of olive groves and have enough friends with olive trees that I can usually get a kilo or so of olives to prepare under salt, which my husband adores. 

We can by oven-roasted versions year round from local vendors from Naples and Sicily as well as Maroccon versions at the grocery store.

To prepare your own, if you have fresh black olives:

Layer the olives with sea salt ( or kosher salt).

I do this in large glass jars with a lid, like the one in the foto.
Each day, drain off the water which forms at the bottom of the jar.

When the olives stop giving off water, they are ready.

Rinse off the excess salt.

Dry on a towel and then season.

I drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, orange zest, chili flakes and garlic. ( if you are saving, use dried garlic slices not fresh to avoid problems.)

I buy a mix of dried garlic and chili with herbs for pasta sauce in Italy and can use that.

I keep in the fridge. They don't last long in this house! 

Try giving a kick to olives you buy or even oven roasting some black olives  to give them more personality!


  1. Yes, olives are not an easy thing to cultivate! Thanks for the easy treatment here.

  2. Ciao Judy,

    What a wonderful post! I was so surprised to learn of the high cost of the olive trees Mette (of Italian Notes) wrote about the cost of the trees on her property in Puglia. She also wrote that theft of the trees is common. The saying "Like a thief in the night" holds true. At night thieves dig up the trees and truck them north for sale. I had no idea.

    I showed your post to Bart, and he said "Yes, we did that." Although he said his parents spread their olives on large sheet pans and covered them with salt. Right here in LA his family grew and cured their own olives. I thought that was pretty cool.

    Judy, I send my warmest wishes to you and yours for a wonderful 2013. I certainly have enjoyed getting to know you this year. Buon anno, amica!

  3. I hope that 2013 is rich in experiences, filled with love and happiness and it goes without saying good food just like this Judy. Have a safe and happy New Year. Smile often and those around you will too.