It's been about three weeks since we first picked our olives for curing. Here's an update on the three methods we've used for curing the olives.
This will turn out to be the fastest curing method. I had to change the water used for curing the olives every day. It took about 20 days to rid the olives of their bitter (think mouth-puckering) taste. So the next step was to prepare a salt water and vinegar brine, pour it over the olives, and top with some olive oil. Since I had a lot of olives, I put the olives in two containers and added some herbs (peppercorns, bay leaves and garlic) to one of the brine solutions. Now the olives will steep in the brine for up to a month to develop their flavor. Adding the garlic to one of the brines meant that I have to store that one in the fridge, to prevent unhealthy stuff from "cooking" in the brine. The other container is sitting in our shed, where the temperature is about the same as a wine cave.
The brine curing has been the easiest method, but takes the longest time. After soaking in a salt water brine for a week, I transferred the olives to individual canning jars and brined them with a higher strength solution. The jars are now sitting in the same shed. I'll change the brine once a month for the next few (up to six) months, until the olives lose their bitter taste.
The olives have been sitting in a plastic colander covered with kosher salt for a couple of weeks now. Once a week I put the olives in a bowl, re-mix them, and return them to the colander. Then I cover the olives with a new layer of kosher salt. You can tell that the salt is leaching out the moisture from the olives—the salt feels wet and the olives are starting to develop wrinkles. These guys have a few weeks of curing left and then they'll be ready for storing in brine or olive oil.
I'll check in again when we get to the tasting part… with any luck we'll have plenty of olives for those summer evenings on the deck with a glass of white wine, some cheese and a crust of French bread!