Or any other olives for that matter. As you can see from the photo to the right these are from the Mediterranean Warehouse in Newtown. I also got one of the worst coffees… And Second Chef got a wee fizzy drink.
The truth of the matter is that I had to stop serving these olives to the Dropkicks on Monday night because they were gradually driving me broke. Them boys loved them some olives with their whisky. And beer. And sometimes wine.
There isn’t really any secret to this marination process. It’s exactly what I saw the chefs do when I worked in an “Italian” bistro in Melbourne, and probably the least complicated recipe you’ll see on this blog.
So here’s what you’ll need.
- The aforementioned olives. These are kalamata, but you can also buy black olives, green olives, spanish olives, ligurian olives… mmmmm…. ligurian olives…
- Olive oil. You can decide the quality. We’re on a pit of a savings kick, so we’re using this pomace oil.
- Salad or another cheap vegetable oil. Using all olive oil is too expensive. You can dilute it with vegetable oil without weakening the marination.
- Herbs! Here I’m using some rosemary I pinched out of a local garden, some thyme from Commonsense Organics ($2 for a *huge* bunch), some garlic, some fresh chilli, and peppercorns.
- A small measure of muslin or another light cloth.
And we’re off!
The first thing to do is make a bouquet garni. This is, to the uninitiated, “some herbs in a sack”. Cut a section of muslin maybe 10cm by 10cm, and place the chillis, the herbs, a couple of cloves of garlic, and a few peppercorns into the centre of the cloth.
Once the bouquet garni is full, tie it up so that the ingredients stay together. I’m not sure of exactly the right method though… I just pull two corners together, and tie them loosely. Then I tie the other two corners into a granny knot. Then the first two corners get tied over the top of the granny knot, in… another granny knot!
Seems to work ok.
The next thing to do is drain the brine off the olives. Olives are almost always cured in brine, so you need to tip all this off, and rinse them thoroughly with fresh water.
While the olives are draining, pop your bouquet garni into the now empty and rinsed container. Then, fill with the olives again. Simple. You can always put a few olives in first, then the garni, then fill. Whatever.
Now just fill with your oil!I used 500ml of salad oil, but 750ml would have been better. Then, top up with the olive oil.
This is done once the oil just tops the olives, and put the lid on very tight.
The idea now is to put the olives into a cool, dark place (like the back of the pantry) for about a month. Then, whenever you need olives for anything, there you are! Even better, if you dig olives out of the middle of the container each time you remove some, you circulate the oil and make the marination better.
The only real trick with this is keeping the oil clean. Use a slotted spoon to dig your olives out, and never, ever stick your hands in there. If you do then the oil will eventually go rancid and you’re $30 out of pocket for the olives alone.
But, if you’re careful the oil should last for a very good long while. The other jar of olives from this one has been in the pantry for 2 years now, and the oil is still ok. Occasionally I need to top it up on account of losing a little when I take out olives, but otherwise, fine!
The final thing is to replace the bouquet garni every 6 or 12 months or so. A good indication is the mankiness of muslin. If it’s looking dodgy, biff it out and make a new one. Over time the oil will become richer and richer.
So, enjoy these extremely delicious olives!