How to Cure Olives

Discover how to cure olives and marinate them in gorgeous flavored virgin olive oil!

Ever wondered how to "make" olives? In case you're wondering, you can't just pick an olive from a tree and eat it; it is VERY bitter!

Here in Cyprus, we have many kinds of olives suitable for eating, including the most common type, which is a small olive usually picked in October while still green.

NB: A green olive is just a black olive which hasn't been allowed to ripen fully!

It is easy to learn how to cure olives, provided you pick juicy, preferably black, ripe olives and follow the steps below.

How to Cure Olives

how to cure olives How to Make Olives

Before you start, make sure your olives are completely bug-free:

Look for tell-tale holes in the skin and discard if you find any...

And that they are slightly soft and juicy:

Test one by squeezing it gently...

If lots of juice comes out, the olives are ready to cure!

  • Make a slit in each olive or crack each one open carefully with a wooden mallet

  • Put the olives in a large bowl and cover with water.

  • Change the water daily for 10 to 12 days to extract the bitterness and make the olives "sweet."

  • After 14 days, drain the olives and place in a solution of brine made with 100g salt/1 litre water for every kilo of olives - leave for 2 days.

  • Drain again and place in a solution of vinegar and water made with 1 part water to 3 parts vinegar and leave for another 2 days.

  • Finally, drain the olives again and store them in olive oil and herbs of your choice OR a mix of 3 parts brine (made as above) to 1 part vinegar covered with a layer of olive oil

Tip: Make sure you "taste" the olives as you go along as some olives cure faster than others and some can take on the flavour of salt and/or vinegar more quickly so you may need to reduce the amount of salt or vinegar by throwing the water away and making another batch of brine or vinegar water.

NB: The local Cypriots tend to use other methods of "sweetening" olives, mainly using LARGE quantities of salt or boiling them first to reduce the bitterness more quickly. We even know one local who cures their olives just by covering them with salt for a week.

If you have tried olives in Cyprus and hated them because they were too salty, this could be the reason why!

Marinated Olives

If you use the method above, you will end up with wonderful olives and you can then create marinated olives by adding all sorts of herb combinations to create your own special dishes now you know how to cure olives.

Try these marinades:

  • rosemary, dried chillies, garlic, black pepper and olive oil

  • Or fennel seeds, rosemary, crushed coriander seeds, garlic and olive oil

Tip: Be careful if you add lemon juice to your marinade - this is best done only for olives you are going to consume quickly as the lemon juice gradually colours the olives and makes them go mouldy if left in the marinade too long.

Finally, if you have a chance to visit an olive oil factory, don't forget to buy enough oil to make some fantastic flavoured oils too. Oh, and ask the local farmers how to cure olives, THEIR way!

Related Pages:

Making Olive Oil - Joy of Olive Picking

About Cyprus Wines Grape Varieties

Best wines in Cyprus

Eco-Friendly Water Bottles - good for storing olives too!

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