Author: Rebecca Verduci
Well it’s just past Easter and in our house that means Olive time. The olives are just beginning to change from green to black and it means it’s time for picking and preparing the olives. But how did we get to this point?
It all began way back when my father decided a nice sunny spot outside the front of their house would do just nicely for an olive tree. An olive tree requires a very sunny spot, well-draining soil and plenty of water in its foundation stages. Preparing the ground with rich soil is an expected given for a fruitful tree as is plenty of water. We have two olive trees side by side and one always fruits while the other doesn’t. It’s all in the drainage of the water. It turns out the yielding tree is positioned on slightly higher ground and therefore, has better drainage than the other which yields NO olives.
A commitment about 10 years ago provided olives for generations to come.
The time and effort placed all those years ago sees plenty of olives for my parent’s, sister’s family, my family, extended family and friends.
After nurturing the tree for five years olives finally revealed themselves and the fruits of our labour were evident. My father took on this challenge with pure faith and commitment that his family will later benefit from his efforts.
Today was picking day. Anton, Lucas and I were creating memories. Enveloped by branches, twigs in hair and ants crawling over our hands, we picked two large bags of olives ready for preparation. Lots of delightful squeals as another was discovered and an exploration of which olives the birds had attempted to scavenge. It was like Easter all over again, but this time we were in search of olives and we too knew that with our efforts in picking, and commitment in preparation, we too could enjoy yummy olives at the dinner table.
How to prepare olives:
- Cover olives with fresh water. Make sure a saucer is placed on top to keep olives submerged.
- Replace water daily for about 3 weeks until “bitterness” is removed from olives (some people find pricking each olive with a toothpick speeds up this process. I have never done this step and find they always turn out fine)
After about 20 days, it’s now time to prepare the olives for storage.
- Fill sterilised jars with olives, sprigs of rosemary, fresh chillies and garlic cloves leaving about 1cm at top of each jar.
- Fill each jar with 3 parts brine and 1 part apple cider vinegar up to ¾ full. Then top up jars right to brim with olive oil to avoid bacterial contamination.
- Seal jars and leave for 3 months before eating. These jars will last for years providing they were sterilised initially and no air can get to olives.
So with faith, commitment and a little work, generations to come can enjoy the olive trees my father planted all those years ago.
Plant an olive tree today.