Monday, December 6, 2010

Olive Harvest 2010

Saturday we headed out to the front 40 (not acres, mind you, more like square feet) for our very first olive harvest.  Now, we only have one tree, so let's not make this out to more then it is, but it was still quite exciting as it was the first thing we've ever really harvested.  I don't consider the occasional tomato or the instantaneous eating of a somewhat red strawberry by my son to be a harvest.  So, here we were:

Kiki hunting for olives.  She did pretty well, once she understood we didn't want the ones on the ground.

My son really got into it.  Especially, when he figured out he would need a ladder.  That was great fun.

We still have no idea what kind of olives these are.  So, we're sticking with "black".  We harvested these fairly late, December 4th, so nearly all of them were black.  And, when I say nearly I mean 99%.  From what I understand, olives can be harvested from September to December, with the greener olives providing a different flavor then the more mature black olives.  Whether or not this is correct with our unknown variety, I don't know.  Next year, we'll be noting on the calendar to harvest half in October and the other half around Thanksgiving.  That way, we'll compare the difference between harvesting at different times.

The pot is actually lower in the grass, so it looks like less, but according to the NASA-like accurate bathroom scale, we got around 8 pounds.  And, yes, I remembered to subtract the weight of the pot.

We did some research online as to the different ways to cure the olives.  Since, I didn't want to go out and buy anything exotic, meaning stuff that wasn't already in the pantry, we're curing the olives using two different methods.

Half of them we are curing in plain water.  Olives in, water in, that's it.  My father-in-law is doing the same with his olives and changing the water once a week.  I've read the water should be changed once a week and I've read it should be changed daily.  Being realists, we're going with the once a week approach.

The second half of the crop we're curing using a brine.  One quarter cup of salt to one quart of water.  That will also be renewed once a week.  Both of these methods should yield edible olives in three or four weeks.

Water bath on the right, and brine on the left.

Once we're done, my family will have a taste test and let both of you know how they turned out.  You see, I can't stand plain olives, so they will all taste terrible to me.  However, everyone else eats them like candy, so I'll leave the tasting to the experts.

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