Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Oliving for Chanukah

Technically, my olive-picking morning wasn't for Chanukah -- I just joined with a few neighbors to pick olives because it's fun and I could. But Chanukah begins in 2 weeks and it's the season of olive oil (we often light it, in place of candles) so, if people can get into the Xmas spirit with tinsel and shopping, I can get into the Chanukah spirit with some exercise.

The four of us, 50ish and 60ish ladies, were not equipped for the kind of professional olive-picking that people do when they know what they're doing, but we did manage to find some sticks to beat the trees, and tarps to put under the trees to catch the olives, and all in all, did OK. The trees themselves haven't been pruned properly for a long time so they're high and many of the olives eluded us, but I took home a couple of kilos, about half green and half black (interestingly enough, the same trees had both green and black olives).

Now it's time to cure them. The black ones are the easiest. You just put them in a pillow case or something with salt and let them sit for several weeks. You have to hang the pillow case somewhere where the olives can drip as the salt cures them.

The green ones need a little more attention. For several weeks you soak them in salt water to draw out the bitter taste, changing the water daily.

After about 2 weeks of this you put them in the brine which generally involves salt water, lemons, garlic, bay leaves and any other kind of herb that you want to add (I have fresh rosemary growing right next to my house). It takes about another month until they're ready.

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