Thursday, April 17, 2014

Picking, treating and preserving olives in brine, and olives marinated in olive oil and herbs

Preserving olives is a rewarding experience. If you don’t have an olive tree you may be able to forage olives from trees in community gardens and in parks.  Usually olives are ready around April-May (in New Zealand).
Pick the olives from the tree (never from the ground) and wash well in cold water. If you prefer sweet-tasting olives you can put them in a bucket of water for up to 40 days, or 20-30 days for very small olives, changing the water every 24 hours; the olives will become brownish in colour, and lose a lot of bitterness. After this period make a brine (recipe follows) and bttle your olives. If you prefer crispy green olives with a peppery taste, just wash them and soak them for a day, then preserve them in brine.

Brine for preserving olives

Before making the brine, be sure to have plenty of glass jars with lids, sterilised and completely dry.


Prepare 10% salt brine (100 g of salt for every litre of water) by placing in a saucepan the water and salt.  Simmer until the salt is completely dissolved. Once the brine is cold place the olives into clean sterilised jars and cover completely with the brine.

To each jar add one more clove of garlic, a fresh bay leaf, a chilli pepper, or a fresh sprig of thyme.  Seal and put away in a dark place for three months. After this period the olives can be used in cooking or can be marinated with olive oil and your favourite herbs.

If you’d like to keep the olives for longer prepare a new brine with an 8% solution (80 g of salt every for every litre of water) and put the olives into new jars with the fresh brine (discard the old brine). Olives stored this way, and completely covered with brine, will last for years! Don't worry if you see white spots forming at the top of the brine, as this is natural — just remove them every time you open the jar, and always rinse the olives before using. Below is a recipe for marinating your preserved olives with olive oil and herbs, starting with your olives in brine.

Olives marinated in olive oil and herbs

I suggest you use a delicate olive oil for this recipe, like an extra virgin olive oil from the supermarket. Expensive olive oil is far too precious to marinate olives, unless you have your own press.

300 g olives in brine (green or dark)
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh oregano
1 sprig fresh rosemary
6 peppercorns
200 ml extra virgin olive oil

Drain the olives well from the brine, and give them a little rinse. Place in a large jar, add the herbs and pepper corns, and cover with the oil. Leave to rest for at least one day, and then serve. Store in a cool place and use within two weeks.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


  1. A friend's father has an olive tree and they showed me the buckets of olives that he preserves every season. I tried one and it was delicious! Definitely worth a try :)

    1. I bruised and cracked my olives and soaked them for a week changing the water every day I then made the brine but added celery carrot garlic sprig rosemary a sprig thyme and a small sprig of fresh oregano to the olives in the brine and sealed tightly and put in my dark pantry Is this ok to put the veggies in there at this point or should I wait until the marinating time

  2. Oh thank you so much for posting this, Alessandra. I'll pick our olives when they are ready and brine them as you instructed here.


    1. Yeah! And let me know how you go while you are doing it, I an give you more tips :-)

  3. Look absolutely delicious I never made this Alessandra!
    Happy Easter to all of you!

  4. Ciao Gloria, probably olives are ready around this time in Chile too!

  5. Your post has reminded me to check our olive trees. Homemade olives are so much tastier than bought - the effort is definitely worth it.

  6. "Alessandra Zecchini" has been included in Friday's Sites To See for this week. Be assured that I hope this helps to point many new visitors in your direction.

  7. wow....è meravigliosa tutta questa arte...complimenti!!

  8. Tantissimi auguri a te e famiglia per una Pasqua piena di serenità, allegria, buon cibo e tanto cioccolato!

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