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Brine cured Black Olives

  • 2 pounds (1 kg) ripe, uncured, black olives
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100 g) fine sea salt
  • 1 3/4 pint (1 l) water
  • fresh thyme, optional
  • fresh rosemary , optional
  • fresh bay leaves , optional
  • extra-virgin olive oil, optional
  • whole black peppercorns, optional
  • red wine vinegar, optional
  • minced fresh garlic, optional
  • grated lemon zest (yellow peel), optional
  • grated orange zest (orange peel), optional
  • dried red chilli peppers, optional

Do not wash the olives. If there are any leaves or stems still attached to the olives, remove and discard them. In a large crock, combine the salt and water and stir to dissolve. Add the olives, cover and set aside in a cool spot for several months, stirring from time to time. The olives should be covered with a small plate, to keep them all immersed in the brine. A scum will form on top, but is harmless and should not be discarded, for the scum is the sign of a healthy, active brine. When starting with a fresh brine, the olives will take 3 to 4 months of curing before they are edible. Never discard a salt brine for olives. The brine will become black and inky, and can be used year after year. Do not add any seasonings other than salt and water to the brine. Add specific flavourings at serving time. To serve, remove the olives from the brine with a slotted spoon or wooden olive scoop with holes. Taste the olives. If they are excessively salty, they can be rinsed or soaked in cold water to remove some of the saltiness. Serve as they are, or season with any of the optional seasonings noted. Yield: 2 lb (1 kg) olives

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