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Curing Olives

Here in Algarve in southern Portugal it is now harvest time for
olives, one of the main local trees. At the moment peasant farmers
are collecting them by bashing their trees with long poles, while
their wives and other family members pick them up one by one off
the ground. Most of the olives go to make oil, but some are preserved
for eating. Everyone has their own method of doing this - here are
a couple which we have found successful.


Lightly salted olives, with herbs

Soak the olives in plain water, changing the water daily for about
a week. Then add about 100 grams of sea or rock salt per kilo of
olives, cover and leave for two or three months. Some mouldy oil
may form on the surface, but this does not matter. Simply skim it
off. Replace the water, adding the same amount of salt, and some
herbs, such as crushed garlic, thyme, bay leaves or any other
savoury herbs. The olives are now ready for eating.

To speed the process, you can make a small cut into each olive
before soaking. They will then be ready in a few weeks.


Strongly salted olives

Wash and dry the olives. Place in a container in layers, alternating
with dry rock or sea salt, using about 300 grams of salt per kilo
of olives. Cover and leave for six months. The salt will extract
liquid from the olives, leaving them shrivelled. Before eating
the olives, rinse in plain water, or soak for a few hours. These
olives have a much stronger taste than the first ones.

Olives prepared in either way will keep for a year or more.

We enjoy eating them with bread and cheese or a drink.

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