How to Pickle Black Olives

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Pickling black olves helps reduce their bitterness.
Pickling black olves helps reduce their bitterness. (Image: olives image by Eric MATVEEFF from Fotolia.com)

There are several different varieties of olives, but within those varieties, the green olives are unripe while the black olives have ripened fully. Without being pickled in brine, both green and black olives can be unpleasantly bitter rather than tangy and salty as green olives usually are or mild and almost nutty like typical black olives. You can pickle your own black olives at home, but start the process well before you expect to need them; it takes at least six weeks--and up to several months--from start to finish.

Things You'll Need

  • Container
  • Plate
  • Non-iodized salt
  • Olive oil

Rinse your black olives to remove any dirt or debris, then place them into a container of cold water deep enough to cover all of the olives. Change the water in the container every day until the olives have soaked in pure, cold water for a total of 10 days.

Boil 1 gallon of water and mix in 1 cup of non-iodized salt. Stir thoroughly until the salt has completely dissolved, then remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Pour this over your olives. Depending on the number of olives and the size of the container, you may need to make more than one batch of this mixture. Make enough to completely submerge all of the olives.

Change the salted water in the container every week until the olives have soaked in this mixture for a total of four weeks, then drain off the last batch of water.

Mix 1 gallon of water with 1/2 cup of non-iodized salt and pour this weaker salt mixture over your olives. Depending on the number of olives and the size of the container, you may need to make more than one batch of this mixture. You should make enough to completely submerge all of the olives.

Pour a layer of olive oil over the surface of the brine mixture. This will help prevent the air from reaching the olives and assist in reducing spoilage.

Cover the container and store it in a cool, dark place until the olives are ready to eat. This may take from six weeks to several months depending on your olives. Try an olive every few days after five to six weeks. When you enjoy its flavor and the bitterness is mostly gone, the home-pickled olives are ready to eat.

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