By Amy Machnak, Sunset food writer
I have two separate batches of olives that I am trying to cure using different methods.
The first I started around Halloween, with olives from Pietra Santa Winery in a salt cure. The other olives are ones that Team Olive brought back from our harvest at Valencia Creek Farms in November. Those are in a brine solution (water and salt).
The salt-cured olives, which I was told would take 4 to 6 months to
complete, are shriveled, dry, and taste of old wood. I don’t see how
keeping them in salt a few more months is going to make any difference.
I have an email in to my local “expert” (read: my Italian
father-in-law) to see what I have done wrong and how to repair the
damage if possible.
The real disappointment are the olives in the brine solution. They
started out bright green, plump, firm, and meaty. After only a few
days, some started to change color and become brown and squishy. Now
the brine solution has developed a thick film on the top, a color best
described as baby-shower pink, and spots of gray fluffy mold spores. I
have been told that this
is normal (you have got to be kidding, right?) and that this in fact “adds to the flavor of the olives.”
If I am not willing to eat it myself, I don’t have the heart to ask
anyone else to sample my science project. I can only hope at this point
that what was naturally perfect in the beginning and has turned ugly
over time will eventually be reincarnated as something deliciously