What shall I do?

I know I want to run a 5k and half marathon. Okay, so I want to run, but I will end up power walking instead. Maybe try out some new ethnic cuisines. Travel to some new spots. Try some new classes. Support a new charity. Some may be exciting adventures, some may be boring. I welcome your suggestions for something new to try.

Monday, May 23, 2011

#9 Curing Olives

When it comes to preserving foods, I have been known to can a time or two in my life, but mostly the usual stuff like fruits, vegetables and salsa.  My mother-in-law showed me how to can meats once and I do have to say they were delicious, but I always was too afraid to try them myself in case I did something wrong and poisoned a loved one.  I also used to dehydrate quite a bit, but it has been awhile since I have tried preserving anything new.

While visiting my Mom's ranch last month I noticed one of her olive trees was still bearing fruit.  That gave me the idea for #9, learn how to cure olives.  She has quite a few mission olive trees around her house, but the one bearing fruit took a tall ladder and some help from Trev who was visiting for Mother's Day to harvest.  We were not skilled, nor terribly well prepared and half the fruit ended up on the ground which caused a bit of bruising.  I packed it up in my carryon and the TSA was none too gentle either so it wasn't the best fruit by the time it arrived home, but it was about the journey to try something new, not trying to make the best olives ever.  I can hit the olive bar at the local market for that.

Olive fruit is hard and bitter.  It needs to cure to take some of the bitterness out and soften the olive.  To cure olives you can soak it in water, a salt brine or just cover with salt.  Mission olives were recommended with the salt brine.  I took my somewhat bruised and mostly under ripe olives and made the recommended brine to soak in.  You give the olives a slight whack to crack them enough to allow the curing process to reach through the skin.  It was a fine line between cracking the skin and cracking the whole olive open.  Then I tossed them into the brine and set them aside.

Olives are buoyant little suckers.  I would check them and the side in the brine was curing, but the top side not so much.  I put an aluminum foil top over them to make them stay under the brine and while better, they still were coming out uneven.  So I decided to switch to the all salt method.  It was far easier than the brine method, although not recommended for this olive type.

After a few weeks I can now say I have cured olives.  I can not say I cured olives well or even cured truly edible olives.  OK, they were edible, but only in an I am really starving and too lazy to fix anything kind of a way.  I'm not sure a food bank would even hand them out to the hungry.  The curing brought out every little bruise they suffered in the harvesting and traveling from California to Utah through the intense security we have endured since Bin Laden was killed.  Haven't flown since then?  Consider yourself lucky.  It took me 15 minutes just to get my shoes back on my feet.  But I digress...back to the olives.  They were soft enough to eat while still firm and actually had a pretty decent flavor, but cosmetically were the ugly stepsisters combined.

So I have learned how to cure olives and how not to complain about the high price of olives at the olive bar.  They are worth EVERY penny!

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