Friday, December 30, 2005

Moldy Olives and Sour Grapes

I sort of forgot about the black olives I was curing, but even so, I got to them just in time, a month after I started them in a bed of salt. Yep, just plain, dry, non-iodized salt. You place a sieve over a bucket and line the sieve with burlap. Pile in a layer of salt, and then the washed and dried black olives. Distribute a whole bunch more salt over them, and ignore for a week. After a week, you give it a stir, then the next week, and the next, until the month is up.
These olives were so microscopic when we picked them, and they shriveled to almost nothing in the salt. In fact, they were hard and unappealing when I rinsed the salt off the day before yesterday.
Well, I let them dry off in the sieve and got back to them today, to find they had plumped a bit from their own oil. Nice, shiny, good leathery texture, no bitterness! But a few had begun to grow mold. (I was supposed to have put them back on salt, in the fridge, to keep them nice, and even then they have a terribly short shelf life.)
Then, after I took this picture, I ate the olive you see front and center. Beautiful sheen, good color, not a sign of mold.
It had been contaminated with invisible mold. Tasted awful. I chucked out the entire batch.
Ah, sour grapes. They were really too little to eat anyway.


SuperAmanda said...

Wonderful blog. I came to olives later in life than most of my fellow Mediterraneans. At the tapas place "Andalu', in SF's Mission, the olive plate is affordable and really big. Its one food that has it all...

cookiecrumb said...

Gee, thanks, SA. Yeah, I think I'll leave the olive-making to the professionals from now on. Andalu was fun the last time I was there (long time ago).

b'gina said...

That's a shame, especially after waiting a month for them.

I'm going to see if I can't get permission to pick some of the olives around here next year. I'd really like to try curing them.

laughingrat said...

Aw, that's a shame. I remember being pretty impressed when I read about your picking and salting them!

cookiecrumb said...

Well, that's the way the best-laid plans crumble. Some of the olives are edible; but that bad one... hooboy. Bad enough to make me dump the lot. I'm partly to blame: If I'd put them on salt in the fridge right away, they might not have gone bad. Cranky suspects there may have been mold on the olives while they were still on the tree, because we were so late picking them.
Howdy, laughingrat! Out of lurkhood! Welcome.
B'gina: Yeah, pick olives next year, and shoot for early-to-mid November. If the ones you get are plumper than my dinky things, you'll probably like them better.

Ilva said...

IF you change your mind tell me, then I will get my neighbours wonderful olive recipe, she puts them in lots of spices and keeps them there for almost a year and they taste great!

Rozanne said...

This post cured me of ever trying to cure olives.

I'm sure they were moldy to begin with. Salt is, after all, supposed to be a preservative.

cookiecrumb said...

Well, I'm torn. The first one I tried was good. Ilva's neighbor has success. And I'm pretty sure I should have salted them again after I rinsed off the curing salt (which had turned dark and mangy)... Instead I just left them in the colander for two days. Not a huge loss, though. We had so much fun "harvesting" the olives, and we got pretty close to the real thing.
Good pun, though, Rozanne.