Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Olive Me, Why Not Take Olive Me?

You may know I'm crazy about preserved and cured foods. I like the way they taste, their new texture, and the fact that you can keep them for a long time. Which is the point of preserving. Duh.
But last month, while dining at an exciting non-meat restaurant in Napa with one of my favorite bloggers and her mum, I tasted the most extraordinary (fresh) cured (fresh) olives.
They were green and meaty. No, really green, not olive green. They cracked off the pit with a satisfying... well... crack! Audible.
It was obvious these olives had been on somebody's tree recently.
And because it only takes a few days to cure green olives, I was definitely eating (cured) fresh (cured) olives.
Which got me to thinking. If a cured item is at its best right now, shouldn't we be eating it right now?
Oh, sure, leave a few in a jar in the fridge if you think you'll be craving olives next May. But they won't be as good. They get mushy.
Besides, even though curing is technically a preservation technique, in the case of olives it's the only way you're going to be able to eat the little orbs at all.
So I'm thinking about cured olives as a seasonal item now. Cure them so you can eat them, then eat them.
Now.

16 comments:

Mimi said...

I'm currently curing a pound of San Marzano olives I bought at the Farmer's Market in mid november. I opted to brine them. The instructions I found take 3-4 months. Wish me luck. I'm a complete neophyte.(oh... I am in complete agreement with you. I plan to eat them as soon as they are ready, every last one. yum!)

cook eat FRET said...

love olives, but again a very cool photo. great colors. tomorrow i start photography lessons - 3 hour tutotrial... wish me luck!

Dagny said...

I'm with you on that mushy thing. I like my olives to have at least a little crunch. Sounds delicious.

Barbara said...

I've grown and cured my own olives. I used the salt brine method and it took about 4 - 8 weeks depending on the olives. It differed each year. One year I tried soaking them in plain water, no salt. They were awful.
Here's the post on curing
http://winosandfoodies.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/04/how_to_cure_oli.html

Sam said...

so here i am writing up a little something about Ubuntu for my blog and head over here to link to my dining companions and find you have just written about Ubuntu too. It's funny, though, the think really in my mind was the cauliflower and the cheesecake and the potatoes. But now I remember the olives too. The beauty is in the details.

Ilva said...

That's why I cure the few olives I manage to accumulate energy to pluck from our olive tree, 10 days of curing and then pure joy!

Bri said...

Ooooo, now I want to try fresh cured olives. I'm finding more and more in my life, just how important it is to eat foods when they most want to be eaten. I know it's a profound statement ;) but with the abundance of Mexican asparagus in November, and canned olives on the shelf from some other lifetime, the timeliness of foods can get lost. Thanks for the reminder of the little things too.

Bri said...

One more thing....All of Me was one of my favorite movies as a kid. Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin cracked me up.

Mark said...

I've also been thinking about the freshness of olives. In fact, I'm thinking of planting some young olive trees. This past weekend I found Manzanilla olive seedlings at LindsayOlives.com (the website for the company that makes Lindsay Olives). They even donate proceeds to a nonprofit that plants fruit-bearing trees for impoverished communities, which I think is a real nice gesture for the holidays.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Love, love, love olives and that pic!

El said...

Ah, CC, you showoff! As I look at 6" of new snow...blah, mushy olives are the only kind I can get here. (I'm just olive green with envy.)

peter said...

I also am jealous.

Save some to make spicy green tapenade with your pickled serranos and local citrus.

cookiecrumb said...

Mimi: I should have bought some olives when they were still green. My neighbor (who I have yet to meet) has an olive tree, but I couldn't reach over the fence!!
But, 3-4 months? Oh, too bad it'll be so long.

CEF: You are excited about your camera! Life is good. I'm still an utter simpleton with mine, but I get a groovy shot now and then by accident.

Dagny: Yeah, not only were they crunchy, they were really tasty.

Barbara: I did the lye technique a few years ago, and if I can get my hands on green olives in the future, I plan to try your version. Thanks!

Sam: Wouldn't you say they were the best things we ate that day? I want to make that potato "salad."

Ilva: Oh, I envy you your tree. How great that you cure your own!! xx

Bri: I bet you can find some up your way. Maybe call Ubuntu and find out who their source is.
Thanks for the "All of Me" recognition. ;)

Mark: You've got me eyeballing my little backyard, wondering where I could plant me an olive tree! Thanks. How cool that you were also pondering the olive's freshness. (There are probably some olive experts out there laughing at us for finally figuring it out.)

Susan: My mom says she used to smuggle a jar of olives into the movies when she was a young lady, to snack on instead of popcorn. I guess that's where I got it. (Thanks.)

El: I guess you don't exactly live in olive country, do you? Wah. Bring your farm to California.

Peter: Brilliant suggestion; merci. I was also thinking of a green-olive version of Alice Waters's orange and olive salad with red onions, from her new book. Seasonal! (And, I still have fresh serranos on the bush.)

ChrisB said...

Now that was going to be the topic of my post for tomorrow but I will bow to you experts and reserve mine for later. I wish I could like olives but I expect you are glad I don't as they didn't have to stretch as far!! But bring on those potatoes anytime!

peter said...

Fresh serranos will be even better... (I'm going to go try brining some chestnuts now.)

Sam said...

i think i actually coveted your cauliflower the most (maybe because it wasn't mine) and the dessert was very pleasing to me too. And of course the potatoes.