September 7, 2021 by D.Fathia
Updated September 29, 2021

The season of savory pickled olives

 The season of savory pickled olives

People’s favorite topic around the Mediterranean basin is olive oil. It is a cross-national treasure that people grew up o cherish and enjoy.

In Tunisia, the season for olives is about to kick start. September and November are my personal favorite months of the year because, to be honest, I don’t wait for the harvest; I rather wait for the appropriate time to make pickles.

I do enjoy the walk between olive trees lines and breathe the early morning breeze. I do enjoy the scenes of thousands of black and green olives gathered together. I do love the taste of pure virgin oil. However, what I adore the most is the savory salty taste of pickled olives.

In this article, I share my passion and much more; keep scrolling down.

Best olives for olive oil:

Olive oil is one of the top-appreciated oils on the planet. Its benefits are unquestionable and have been proved with time. Olive oil is the pillar of the Mediterranean diet and is believed to have many positive effects on general health.

Table olives are generally different from those cultivated to extract oil. These types are not often used for both purposes, though some cultivated for pickles can be used in oil extraction as well.

In Tunisia, the Chemleli variety is known to yield the best extra virgin olive oil. In the United States and European countries, Arbequina, Arbosana, and Koroneiki are the three most prized varieties for oil extraction. The latter is loaded with oleic acid and polyphenols and hence contributes greatly to the benefits of this oil.

These varieties are characterized by their bitter flavor and that is very telling of the extra virgin category.

Pickled olives:

Pickles are every dish’s helpful and necessary addition. They simply add taste and deliciousness beyond expectations. Pickling is a method as old as history. Today, people use different methods and ingredients to pickle vegetables.

Here is our traditional ancient way of pickling olives at home. The recipe is tested and proved to work quite fine.

First of all, you have to choose your olives carefully; they have to be ripe but not too ripe. Meaning that they need to start producing oil but they need to be hard. Too ripen ones will easily damage and they will not last long. If you prefer ripened ones, put in mind that you have to consume them as soon as they are pickled, otherwise they will go bad.

Harvest your olives, and then wash them to remove any clinging dust or pests. Then, using a knife, make small cuts into the olives one by one. Remember to put on gloves or your hands will change colors due to the concentrated oil content.

Once done, put them in a large glass jar and pour water until they are fully covered. Seal the jar and leave it for a week. Later, get rid of the old water, pour in new clean water, add salt, lemon juice, and cut lemon, and seal the jar again. They will take at least a month to be ready for consumption. During this period make sure you change the water and add salt at least twice.

With time they will soften and change colors. Eat them as you wish and with any dish you like. If you are too lazy to cut the olives, you can pickle them while intact. The only difference is that they will take at least four months to be edible. These pickles can last year-round.

Some people would use vinegar instead of lemon. I personally prefer the fragrance and taste of lemon over vinegar. But it does the same job.

I have seen and read about other recipes in recent times. I did not try them myself, but I think they might work out just fine. If you are fond of mixing flavors, you can try pickling with peppers, garlic, coriander, and bay leaves.

I have just finished stockpiling my year-round need of pickled olives. The process was tiring because honestly, I consume too many olives, and hence I have to prepare a huge quantity. Yet, it is definitely rewarding. I think of the time when I taste the first fully pickled olive and I cannot help the pleasure I feel. They are mouthwatering and can upgrade any dish beyond all expectations.

I do use these olives to make sandwiches, add them to different kinds of salads, and pour a handful next to all dishes I make. They have to be there at every table for all meals. They can be stuffed too and served as appetizers. They are a wealth that you can exploit in multiple ways.

Things are not over yet. Green olives are pickled and just waiting for them impatiently to ripe, however, there is still one more thing to do. Probably in one month's time from now, olives will be ripe and be ready for harvesting. Then, there are two ways to preserve more olives. First, black olives make excellent pickles and they can be ready in no time. Using salt, lemon juice, and water, as always, I prepare black olives to be brine-cured.

At the end of the harvesting season, some olives left to the very end will be a bit dry. These olives are to be seasoned with salt and left to completely dry under the sun. This is my second favorite type of pickles. They last long and they also can be used with various recipes.

BBC Good Food, Middle East website acknowledges the fact that the pickling process might remove some of the phytonutrient contents of olives, but brine-cured olives are fermented and there is increasing evidence of their positive probiotic actions. Therefore, it is perfectly fine to consume these pickles and enjoy the incredible taste.


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