Bargain Betty

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Olive recipe


Diana’s Devonport olive recipe

Every year I pick a bucket or two of free olives from public trees in Devonport. I then pickle them. Below is the recipe.

Initial pickling


For green or black olives


  • Once picked, take a sharp knife and slice each and every olive once down to the stone. This isn’t quite a time consuming as it sounds and I usually do it in front of the television
  • Place the olives in a bucket or container filling no more than 2/3rds full.  Fill with water and one cup of salt dissolved in it.  I buy a 15kg bag of salt, which lasts two years.  Otherwise it’s easy to use too little salt and the pickling fails.
  • Weight down the olives with a plate or similar to keep them under the water at all times.
  • Replace the brine daily for best results. If you miss a day here and there it’s not the end of the world.
  • Sometimes the brine goes a bit smelly, or forms a scum on top. This isn’t a huge problem, just replace the water. Also, it’s normal for little bubbles of gas to come up from the olives to the surface.  Again, this is normal. They haven’t gone off.
  • After about six weeks your olives should be ready. Taste them and if they are no longer bitter, then they’re ready for the next step.   If not, keep repeating the process until they’re ready.


The final pickling solution is as follows:


  • 1/3rd white vinegar
  • 2/3rds brine – made by boiling water in a pan and dissolving the salt and then leaving to cool. (The brine should be 1:10 salt to water ratio)
  • Place olives in bottles (or ice cream containers) and then pour the brine and vinegar solution over them until the fruit is completely submerged.
  • At this stage you can also add any of the following flavourings: grated or whole garlic, basil, oregano, chopped onion, red capsicum, lemon juice and lemon pieces.  Especially popular is a combination of garlic, basil and lemon juice.  I also use cumin, rosemary, peppercorns, cloves, star anise, or whatever I have around.  I tend to do a different flavouring for each bottle.
  • Top up the bottles with a little olive oil to stop air getting to the fruit. Screw the lids on tight.
  • Store bottles in fridge until use.


When you’re ready to use your olives:


If the strong preserving solution is too strong pour some of it out and replace with lightly salted water. Or if you don’t like the salty taste, you could poor all the solution out and replace with cool water, which will help leach the salt out.   Leave in the refrigerator for 24 hours and taste them.  If they are still too salty for your liking then refill the bottle with a fresh lot of water and return to the refrigerator for a further 24 hours.

One Comment to

“Olive recipe”

  1. On April 29th, 2012 at 2:10 pm Bargain Betty Says:

    One other thing. The olives don’t have to be perfect to be pickled. It doesn’t matter if they have spots or minor damage to the skin. They still pickle fine.

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