Now, by pickled, I mean the jam or preserve kind. Or – as in my case each year – the olive kind. Just so we’re all clear on that.
Since my mother-in-law shared her recipe for preparing olives with me about 4 years ago, autumn means getting stuck elbow-deep in buckets of olives and giving up my bathroom for the cause. The bath and surrounding floor is lined with rows of white buckets filled with purple, glistening olives wallowing in brine (it’s a real conversation starter at dinner parties!), which are stirred daily by my husband or myself for a few weeks before we slice each one, ‘re-brine’ them, and continue stirring for another few weeks.
Slicing them means carefully cutting a slit into each individual olive so that they soak up the salt water and lose their bitterness faster. Picture the two of us, each sitting with a large bucket filled to the brim with olives next to our left knee, and an empty bucket on the floor in front of us, paring knives in hand and red wine within easy reach, listening to 1920’s tunes as black and white movie characters dance silently and cheerfully on the TV and the olives plip-plop into our buckets.
Now imagine doing that with forty kilograms.
And, yes; it is a competition of who finishes their bucket first. Although, this could mean going back to the bath for more.
Why do we do this to ourselves, you ask? There’s a magic involved in going through the sometimes-hard work of a preserving process and coming out the other side with an abundance of something delicious that you made yourself. And what better gift to give than ‘homemade’?
And pitching up at a braai with a jar of these babies is an instant push to the front of the popularity queue. But I have to say with a grin, that to date the most surprising thing to come from making olives is a particularly marvellous friend accepting them as payment for spa treatments. #TrueStory
As I write this, our neatly sliced olives await their bottling date later this month. And I’ll admit; that’s not my favourite part. After a quick dinner, my husband and I form a tag team of sterilising and lid-to-bottle matching; of herb and olive oil distributing, solution making, jar-filling, and sealing. Although these days we break the work up over two nights as it’s easier on the back. (Why didn’t we think of this before??)
Keep an eye on the Pesto Princess social media pages if you’d like to see the final fruits of our labour. 😉
Sincerely Pickled, -hic-
P.S. The top secret recipe I use was created by my mother in-law through years of trial, error and plenty tasting. Do you follow a family recipe, or have you tried any found on the net? I’d love to hear about your pickling endeavours.