Posted by Webmaster | Filed under Edible — Food for you
Too much time is wasted on petty conflicts and Alison Drover encourages us to not only pass the olive branch, to save our energy for the worthwhile wars—like alerting the population to threats to our food supplies of coal seam gas, safeguarding the biodiversity of our seeds and protecting our farmland—but to create change and harmony.
Not only is the olive branch good for the soul, olives are exceptionally good for our bodies. They contain good fats, the majority being the oleic acid, or omega-9 fatty acids, a monosaturated fat which is the one that plays a vital role in the repair of our cell membranes. They can also help to create the good cholesterol (HDL).
It’s no wonder that the Mediterraneans glow with health and our olive issue recipes use plentiful amounts of olives and olive oil and call for few ingredients but emphasise quality and, of course, the season.
Curing your own Greek-style black olives
Olives picked off trees contain a bitter compound called oleuropein which makes them unpalatable to eat, so olives must be cured to be edible.
There are several methods of curing olives: brine, water or lye and the flavour and texture of the olive depends quite a lot on the curing process used.
Lye curing is the fastest process and is used commercially, but the olives don’t have the flavour or of olives cured in other ways.
Here is a natural methods that require time and patience but the results will be worth it and you can add your own flavourings—such as lemon, chilli or garlic—when you bottle them.
This recipes require pickling or cooking salt. This is salt without the iodine and anti-caking additives of table salt—if you use normal table salt, it will turn the olives black and the water cloudy. It’s hard to buy pickling salt in supermarkets but you can buy it online. Try Redback Trading at www.redbacktrading.com.au
Use mature, fully coloured (dark red to purplish black) firm fruit to prepare this style of olive. You can use any olive variety, but Manzanillo, Mission or Kalamata are the best. Some of the olives’ colouring may fade during curing but they’ll darken again when exposed to the air.
- 4.5kg olives of freshly picked olives
- 2¼ cups pickling salt
- an airtight food-grade plastic containers or glass jars for the olives
- a 4-litre container for mixing the brine
Sort the olives according to size and discard any bruised or defective fruit—this will help them cure evenly.
Pack the sorted olives into the airtight containers until about three-quarters full.
Prepare the brine by adding ¾ cup pickling salt to 4 litres of cool water. Stir to dissolve.
Cover the olives with the brine and close the lids carefully and store at 15–26°C.
After 7 days, replace the brine with a fresh batch of stronger brine made with 1½ cups of pickling salt per 4 litres of water. Close the lids firmly again and store for at least 2 months. If you prefer less bitter olives, replace the brine with a fresh batch of strong brine at 1-month intervals for 2 or 3 months. Changing the brine more often will leach out more of the bitter oleuropein.
Check the containers at regular intervals. If gas pressure builds up during the fermentation process and causes the lid to bulge, carefully loosen the lid, release the gas, and firmly close the lid again. If brine leaks out, replace it with a fresh batch of the stronger brine.
With thanks to University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources publication ‘Olives: Safe Methods for Home Pickling’.
Roasted plum, olive and rosemary cake
This cake can be adapted to the seasons so if you still have figs around use these.
- 200g flour
- 125g ground almonds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 300g caster sugar
- 3 organic or free-range eggs
- grated zest of one lemon
- grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
- 125ml extra virgin olive oil
- 100ml milk
- 3 sprigs of rosemary finely chopped
- 6 plums, cut in half, stones removed
- 3 tablespoons honey
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
Line a loaf tin or a round cake tin with greaseproof paper.
Combine flour, ground almonds and baking powder in a bowl.
In a separate bowl whisk the sugar and eggs until fluffy. Add the citrus zest and juice. Stir in the olive oil and milk.
Gently fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture and add the rosemary.
Pour into the tin, place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Take the plums and push them into the top of the cake and drizzle with honey.
Take for a further 15–20 minutes. Serve with a dollop of goat’s or sheep’s yogurt