where to get fresh olives?
I want to cure my own olives- any idea where to get them? Since I live in Washington DC- mail order? TIA
There is a place in Orland CA that ships them fresh - link below. I have not used them, I pick most of my olives at the local cemetery, of all places. In my area (Napa) olive trees are everywhere and people are happy to have them picked before they turn into slippery, oily messes on the ground. Curing olives is great fun and really simple.
Get a food grade bucket (from beer or wine-making supply store or restaurant supply)or big glass jar or ceramic crock. We do a brine cure of 1 gallon water to one pound non-iodized salt (depending on how many olives you have, adjust the amounts. Keep the olives submerged with a plate or dishtowel. We get a 25 pound bag of salt, changing brine weekly. It usually takes well into March for them to start tasting edible, we start changing brine less often and by summer they are fantastic. Last year we had some olives the size of plums which cured faster than the smallest ones - so just keep tasting. Some people cut or smash them before brining to speed up the process but I like them whole. We haven't used lye but it is LOTS faster. We have done dry salt cure but it is more tricky because if you are not careful you can totally dessicate the olives.
UC Extension has a good booklet called "Home Pickling of Olives" (you can order it from http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/InOrder...), as does Olive Oil Source http://www.oliveoilsource.com/olive_r...
and Fran Gage's book Bread and Chocolate
Please report on your olives!
How long it takes in brine varies so much, probably depends on cracking or cutting, probably variety. Be patient and they turn out really well.
I'm not sure which recipe you are referring to that takes a few weeks. The Penna website describes lye curing, which is really fast - a few days to weeks - but I don't want to deal with drain cleaner and I've been told the texture is not as good. Of course, many delicious commercial olives are lye-cured. If you want them for holiday gifts, lye is the way to go. The other method they describe is a brine with vinegar. That sounds good.
I don't refrigerate the olives until they are fully cured. Then I drain them and mix with chiles or herbs or lemon zest (or some combination of those), refrigerate and let them soak up the flavors for a few days. I think you could ship them in brine. Or, perhaps try UC's methods - link below.
Strange coincidence -- was just at a large Asian supermarket in Boston today and saw fresh olives and wondered what to do with them. Now I know!