Smoking olives adds deep flavor that contrasts with the rich flesh of these tasty fruits. By making them at home, you control the amount of smokiness that you infuse into the olives. Use your favorite variety; the method works for green or black olives with or without pits. Marinating the smoky morsels adds a flavorful finish to the dish, which is equally well suited for serving at an elegant dinner party or popping as an everyday snack.
Using an electric smoker is the easiest way to make smoked olives because all you have to do is plug it in, set the temperature and add your olives. If you don't have an electric smoker, you can use your outdoor grill. Add wood chunks to the coals, once they are hot, if you have a charcoal grill; or use a metal smoker box filled with wood chips to turn your gas grill into a smoker.
Choosing Wood for Smoking
The flavor of the smoke varies depending on the type of wood you use. Strongly flavored woods such as hickory or mesquite could easily overpower the rich zingy flavor of your olives. Choose wood with a more delicate flavor, such as apple, cherry, pecan or oak. Usually the wood chips are placed into a smoker box that's designed for this purpose, but you can fashion your own makeshift smoker box by wrapping a handful or so of chips with aluminum foil and poking a few holes on top.
Smoking the Olives
Drain the olives of the solution you purchased them in and lay them on a towel or several layers of paper towels. Let them dry for 30 to 60 minutes before adding them to the racks of your smoker, or to a heat-safe dish or grilling basket. Set the smoker to temperatures of 200 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit, or set your grill to maintain similar temperatures. Add wood chips to your smoker or grill according to manufacturer instructions. Typically, you'll add the wood around the heating element of the electric smoker, and in the smoker box on the burner or grates of the grill. Smoke the olives for 1 to 2 hours. The longer you smoke them, the more pronounced the smoky flavor will be.
Finishing the Smoked Olives
Although you could stop with just having smoked the olives, why not take advantage of the opportunity to build additional flavor by marinating the smoked olives afterward? While the olives are smoking, mix your marinade in a lidded, nonreactive container such as a glass jar or plastic container. You can use your favorite mix or make a lively concoction of balsamic vinegar, cider vinegar, olive oil, garlic, onions, citrus zest, fresh citrus juice, Worcestershire sauce, crushed red pepper flakes and herbs, such as fresh rosemary. Once you remove the olives from the smoker, submerge them in the marinade. Let them sit at room temperature, stirring them every now and then for 24 to 48 hours. Store the smoked olives in the marinade for up to 2 weeks, or until you serve them.
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