This rough smashing of the olives allows the aromats to penetrate the olives faster, while at the same time releasing more oils and juice to make a cloudy marinade that’s very distinct.
- 2 kg (4 lb 6 oz) raw green olives or good-quality store-bought green olives
- 350 g (12½ oz) fine sea salt
- 400 ml (14 fl oz) white wine vinegar
- 4 fennel flower heads with stalks, chopped
- 2 long green chillies, chopped
- 2 lemon leaves
- 2 garlic cloves
- 12 white peppercorns
- extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
This recipe needs to be started 5 days in advance if using raw olives. The preserve is best after 2-3 months if using raw, or 2-3 weeks if using olives in brine.
Makes enough to fill 2 x 2 litre jars.
- Wash your olives well under cold running water to remove any debris or dust.
- Place the olives in a large bucket and cover with water. Weigh down the olives with a plate or similar to ensure they stay submerged. Change the water daily for 5 days (this will reduce the bitterness and remove a lot of the astringency). You can skip this process if you’re using already-brined store-bought olives.
- Bring 4 litres (4 qts) of water, the salt and vinegar to a rolling boil and boil for 2 minutes or until the salt is dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir through the fennel, chilli, lemon leaves, garlic and peppercorns. Set aside to cool.
- Using a rock, the base of a glass jar or a metal weight, smash open each olive on a sturdy wooden chopping board in one hit. Spoon into two 2 litre (2 qt) sterilised glass jars (see Note).
- Once the brine is completely cool, pour the liquid and aromats into the jars, filling to the rim to avoid any air pockets. Screw the lids on firmly and set aside on a shelf for 2–3 months (or 2–3 weeks if using already-brined olives) in a cool, dry place. Taste-test for bitterness every now and then, but depending on the variety and your personal taste preference they will probably take 4–5 months to cure.
- To serve, remove the olives from the brine and drizzle with a little olive oil and some of the aromats from the jar.
• To sterilise glass jars, wash the jars and lids in hot, soapy water and remove any labels or residual food. Preheat an oven to 110ºC fan-forced, place the jars and lids upside down on clean wire racks and place in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until dry. Transfer to a clean tea towel, right side up.
Recipes and images from Islas: Food of the Spanish Islands by Emma Warren, Smith Street Books, RRP $49.99