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What Are the Best Tips for Pickling Olives?

By M. Chambers
Updated May 16, 2024
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Although many varieties of pickled olives are available for purchase at the store, some may decide to pickle their own olives at home. The process of pickling and preserving foods is not difficult, but may take some practice to ensure the best results. When pickling olives, it is important for the pickler to choose olives that will yield the best-tasting product and to pick a variety that suits personal flavor preferences. Using the correct brine solution is also a vital part of the pickling process. Fermentation will have a large impact on the flavor of the finished product, as well.

Both green and black olives can be used for pickling, but generally should not be combined together in the same batch. Ripened olives are black, while unripe olives are green. They are very different in flavor, so it is important to choose olives that best suit personal taste preferences. Preparation and fermentation time often varies with different types of olives, as well. Popular types of olives to use include the manzanilla, gaeta, cerignola, and picholine varieties.

The ingredients used in the brine solution typically include water, salt, vinegar, and lemon juice. Using the correct amount of salt and water is very important, as this is what will preserve the olives in the jars. Other components — such as olive oil, oregano, pepper flakes, garlic cloves, and rosemary sprigs — are also commonly added to the olive marinade to provide flavor. When pickling olives, the pickler can choose to add any seasonings, herbs, and spices he or she wishes. For more flavorful pickled foods, it is best to include more spices.

Sanitation is also an important part of pickling olives. All jars, lids, and tools used should be washed with hot water and soap and rinsed thoroughly. Jars and containers can also be boiled in a large pot of water for sterilization purposes. No bacteria should be present on the supplies used during the pickling process, as germs can negatively impact how the olives ferment and cure.

Once the olives are covered in the brine solution and sealed with an airtight lid, they are ready for fermentation and storage. Green olives will take two to three months to cure, while the black variety generally only takes about six or seven weeks. The jars of olives should be kept in a dry, cool area away from sunlight and heat. One of the most important aspects of pickling olives is the curing process, so it is crucial to allow the olives enough time to ferment and develop the best flavor.

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Discussion Comments

By fBoyle — On Oct 28, 2014

I always add olive oil to marinate my olives. The olives turn out so much better and I also add celery seeds, red pepper flakes, etc. Sometimes I experiment with new herbs and spices but I make smaller batches when I want to experiment just to see how it turns out. I made a small batch with grilled red peppers, garlic and turmeric last time. It turned out quite good. When it comes to ingredients used when pickling olives, it's tough to go wrong.

By fify — On Oct 27, 2014

@serenesurface-- Pickling can be a form of curing, but there are other methods of curing olives as well. A brine is not always used. Sometimes, plain water with salt is used to cure olives. Olives in the US are usually pickled though, so they are cured in a vinegar and water solution.

It sounds like last time, you let the olives sit in the brine for too long. You must check on your olives every now and again. It's a good idea to check once a week or every couple of weeks depending on the type of olives you have. As the article said, black olives pickle faster, so you have to check on them more often. Check their texture and flavor.

By serenesurface — On Oct 27, 2014

Is there a difference between curing and pickling (brining) olives? Do different types of olives do better with different pickling methods?

I tried pickling olives once a few years ago. The results weren't very good. The olives became mushy. I haven't tried since then. I'm scared of messing up perfectly good olives.

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