How to Pickle Kalamata Olives

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  • Start to Finish: 1 hour plus 4 weeks pickling time
  • Servings: Four 1-quart mason jars
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner

Great as a snack, thoughtful as a gift and indispensable in a refreshing Greek salad, Kalamata olives are prized the world over for their meaty texture and dark purple hue. Sadly, they are far more expensive than your standard green or black olives. Pickling your own olives is surprisingly easy. The hard part -- after finding fresh olives -- is waiting for a whole month for your delicious treats to be ready to eat.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds uncured Kalamata olives, preferably from a local orchard
  • Lots of fresh, clean water (tap or filtered)
  • 2 quarts white cider vinegar or wine vinegar
  • 1 pound salt
  • 1 raw egg
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 4 dried red chilies 
  • 4 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Wash and sort the olives, discarding any wrinkled, pitted or bruised ones and picking off the leaves and stems.

With a very sharp paring knife, make a fine slit down opposite sides of the each olive. This will allow the bitter juices to escape during soaking.

Soak

In a clean 2-gallon jar or basin, immerse the olives in cold water with a handful of salt. Cover and allow the olives to soak for seven days, replacing the salted water at least once a day -- more often if you have the time and opportunity. After five days, fish out one of the olives to see if the bitterness has subsided, just to check if things are going according to plan. At the end of a full week, you should have created non-bitter olives. If not, soak them for another day or two.

Warning

  • Ensure that your expensive Kalamatas don't spoil during the soaking period. Each time you change the water, clean the container thoroughly with boiling water before replacing the olives, water and salt.

Drain and Jar

At the end of the soaking period, drain the olives and wash them in cold water. Spoon the olives into four sterilized mason jars with new lids.

In an extra-large measuring cup or a bowl with a pouring spout, mix 4 cups of water -- filtered or bottled would be best for this part -- with 3 tablespoons of salt. When the salt has dissolved, place a raw egg in the water. If more than a dime-sized portion of the egg surfaces as it floats in the water, you need more salt.

Add the vinegar. Use a quality vinegar but remember that you want the taste of the Kalamatas to be prominent. Using a strong vinegar such as balsamic will impart a different character to your olives.

Stick one chili pepper into each jar of olives along with equal portions of the oregano and garlic.

Stir the water and vinegar and fill each jar with the mixture, leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top. Close the jars and shake the contents. Remove the lids and finish each jar with a layer of olive oil, about 1/4 cup for each container.

Seal the lids tightly and store the jars in a dark place for a month -- although it will seem like a eternity.

Tip

  • Feel free to add various spices to your pickling potion and to experiment with different types of vinegar. Also, know that the longer you age the jars -- up to three months -- the more intense the flavor will be.

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