This week we are talking about resources that we might have. And many of us have olives!
Rachel is a good example to us all! She had access to free olives so she set about learning what to do to preserve them. It could be a daunting task! But not for Rachel, she saw it as an opportunity to increase her pantry!
Many times we have a resource and don't even recognise what an asset it is! Think of the possibilities, for your pantry, for gifts, for sale and for barter! What if you are sitting on a gold mine and wasting it?
Several ladies already mentioned they also have olives and would love to learn what to do with them so over to Rachel and we will learn along with her....
It doesn't matter how busy we are .... If there's a crop of something, we just have to make a way to get it into our pantry! This time, it is olives!!!!!
My parents have four olive trees, and they had surplus olives, kindly picked and ready for me to take! (It is usually safe to pick the green olives once a few olives on the tree are ripening - into a darker colour!) I was given the larger variety of olives that are easy to work with. In a box, they looked like this ....
I set up a work bench at a comfortable height. It had to be something that could stand a bit of a battering! The idea, to avoid using harsh caustic soda, is to prick, cut or bruise the olives to let salt draw out the bitterness and preserve the olives. (Pricking can be done with a fork; to cut, make three slits around each olive with a knife.) I used Mum's grand design of olive-bruising hammer and wooden kitchen board. Ha ha!! Actually, these olives squash easily, and, as Mum nicely said, it makes it easier to cut the olives away from the seed when they're ready for eating! The hammer is a full can of baked beans!! I used a cardboard box to prevent losing olives from the work station. A cloth lining served to collect each batch of bruised olives in one go. (This is also a good time to discard olives that have bad spots on them.)
The bruised olives then need to go into salt water, made at a strength of half a cup of sea salt to ten cups (2.5 Litres) water. I warmed the water first, to dissolve the salt. The olives need to be fully submerged under the salty water, so I used a heavy plate to weigh down the floating olives!!
Green olives need to cure like this for about twelve days (ripe ones ten, although ripe ones are often pressed for oil). Each day, the salty water has to be drained away, and replaced with new salty water of the same strength. I was working with a twenty litre bucket and a nine litre bucket. I had to begin with 12.5 litres of water, reducing to 8.5 litres in just a few days. One could use jars instead of buckets. I am told that shrivelled olives can absorb the salt water and increase in volume (& overflow jars!!).
At the end of twelve days, when the salty water is drained away, the olives are then stored in a double strength salt solution. There should be little bitterness left at this stage. The drained water should be measured to give the quantity required for the final water measurement. Then, the water needs to be brought to the boil, and sea salt dissolved at the strength of one cup of salt to ten cups (2.5 Litres) water.
At last! .... Then comes the fun job of scooping the curing olives into jars! They must keep curing for at least two months before being properly ready to eat!
Again, the olives must be submerged in the double-strength salt solution. Using a kitchen tool, reach down inside the jars to remove air bubbles, and then cover the olives with up to one centimetre of olive oil (I used rice bran oil .... because that was what I had!) to keep the air out. Secure the lids.
Count your blessings! One nine litre bucket of olives gives five large jars of olives. I ended up with fifteen jars on our kitchen table!
When ready to prepare the olives for eating, drain the salt solution away, and replace with fresh water. Stand for 24 hours, then use as you like! There are recipes for adding wonderful flavours like garlic, rosemary and thyme!
Then, be on the watch! Just as I completed my olives, there was another bucket worth of olives awaiting! This time, the process seems much easier, even though the olives are a smaller variety!
Thank you so much Rachel! What a good job you did! I agree that the first time is going to be the most difficult and after a few times it will all just seem easy!
Rachel and I have had a few discussions on things to do with olives. Olive bread, focaccia, olives, cheese and crusty bread, greek salads, pizza....
Take a look at Jane's Olive focaccia.... beautiful!
Do you have a resource that you could turn into an asset? At the farm Mum has a Bay Leaf tree, Chloe has fig trees. These are big assets! Over the years many of mine have been neighbours trees that I have been able to harvest. Years ago I used to get lobsters (even though I don't eat them) and used them for barter. My friend has a huge lemon tree, that's an asset! For many years I picked apples from a road side tree every autumn. That tree was amazing! Sometimes there are things you just don't know what to do with! The first time I had Quinces I had no idea! But I soon learned and it lead to a life of loving them! Something you might not even like is possibly still something you can sell, gift or trade with. Roseanne saw ripe apples in a car park and asked if she could pick them. Hundreds of people saw that tree everyday and no one picked them! So they were heres!
What do you have access to that could be used to increase your pantry, gift cupboard, piggy bank?
If you have something but need ideas of HOW to use it ask away as you can rely on the ladies here to help out!
How did you increase your pantry or preparedness last week? Working on it weekly makes a big difference! Take every opportunity!
Have a very good week!