Curing Fresh Olives

Find out information about obtaining fresh olives and how to cure them at home. From the olive specialists, Penna Gourmet Olives, M&CP Farms,

Location: Orland, California, United States

Sunday, July 10, 2005

2005 Crop of Fresh Olives

The 2005 crop for fresh olives has been slightly delayed because of the extended period of cool weather we've experienced in Orland, California. As the crop develops in the next few weeks we will have pictures available and estimates for harvest times. The crop is developing normally.

Last year we offered Sevillano and Manzanilla. We plan to offer a new variety of olive this year, the Lucques olive.

To order fresh olives during the season of availability, please go to

We have just posted a lye cure process today, 9-23-05.

Please come back for an ongoing discussion of fresh olives and how to cure them.

For information about the 2006 crop, please go to the new post:


Blogger Maurice Penna said...

Please ask me any questions you might have in regards to curing fresh olives.

7/15/2005 10:54 AM  
Blogger gil said...

I tried curing olives for the first time last year and it was great. I have a couple of questions:

1. If I want de-pitted olives, do I de-pit them before or after curing?
2. How do you make the olive black instead of green?

7/15/2005 12:59 PM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

you want to finish curing your olives prior to pitting. raw olives do not pit well and bruse badly. you can darken your olives to some degree if you are useing the lye process. this can happen by leaving the olives exposed to air for several hours each day during the rincing process. you will not be able to get the dark black color of a california black ripe with out using ferrous glucanate.

7/18/2005 7:26 AM  
Blogger drtisbeter said...

hi i purchased a 10 # box of manzanilla olives from you last year which was great but when i got them the olives were all slightly bruised. This only got more apparent during curing. Was the bruising caused by the shipping and is there any guaranty this won't be the case this year??
Also I'm very excited to learn you'll have Lucques available this year. will you be selling them green or slightly older with a bit more color?

Thanks so much for giving us the option to buy fresh olives!!

7/29/2005 7:11 PM  
Blogger fesenjen said...

Hello Maurice

I am looking forward to ordering some olives from you. I have never cured olives before, but I love to eat them so it's time I learned to hunt and prepare them myself.

In fact, if it works out as well as my wine making efforts, I'll probably be giving a bunch away to friends. My question is: How much is 10# of olives? In terms I can visualize, like say 12 oz jars.

And if I order say 40#, do you pack them all in one box or do I get 4 boxes?


7/29/2005 10:15 PM  
Blogger fesenjen said...

Hi Maurice

OK, I'm looking closer at your form and realize the answer to the number of boxes Q is 1 box per 10# increment.

New Q: Let's say I order a few different types of olives - can I cure them all in the same container, or do I need a different container for each variety?

Thanks for your attention to a rank newbie.


7/29/2005 10:21 PM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

Manzanilla olives do not pick and sort as clean as sevillano olives. If you require less blemish I would suggest the sevillano. You could also leave the olives exposed to air during the rinsing process for an hour each day and this will darken the olives masking the blemishes. The lucques olive will be harvested green because this is a traditional lye processed olive.

8/04/2005 6:37 AM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

you need to process your olives seperatley because of size, varietal difference, and how the olives react during process to get the best results. Once processed and stabilized you can mix for table presentation.

8/04/2005 6:43 AM  
Blogger Tim Cleves said...

Thanks for offering fresh olives. I can't wait to place an order next month. I have just moved to the Mid-west from Berkeley and I am really missing the Berkeley Bowl olive bar and the fresh picholines I could get at the Cheese Board. But now I can cure my own!

I have a Time-Life book on preserving (published in 1980) which has a section on curing olives. It has a step-by-step picture guide on curing green olives and then it lists some recipe variations. I will try and describe their techniques and give their recipes. I haven't tried any of them so I can't vouch for there success.

They don’t specify quantities but I suspect that you would want to do 3-4 lbs batches rather than make all 10 lbs at once. How long can you store uncured green olives before they start to loose their vitality?

Step 1: Put the olives on a tray with sides I plan to use a large baking sheet with a parchment paper lining. With a wooden mallet, lightly tap each olive to split the skin. Put the olives in a large bowl of cold water. Cover the bowl and leave in the fridge for 24 hours.

Step 2: After 24 hours empty the olives through a sieve and wash out the bowl. Fill the bowl back up with water and refrigerate the olives for another 24 hours. Repeat this process for a total of 10 days.

Step 3: Pack the olives into a sterilized, non-reactive container. I plan to use an earthenware crock pot. Fill about ¾ full.

Step 4: Make a brine of 4 cups of water, 3 cups kosher salt, 2 ¾ cups dark brown sugar, 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig of thyme, 10 juniper berries, crushed, and 10 pepper corns, crushed. Combine all ingredients and boil for 5 minutes. You can add flavorings to the brine such as orange or lemon peel, dried fennel etc. Let cool. Strain it over the olives

Step 5: Cover and refrigerate the container. The olives will be ready to eat in a week or so and should last (fat chance) for several months.

A variation is to mix the raw olives in a slurry of wood ash. I am not sure what type of wood is used to make the ash. I am pretty sure you can’t use BBQ briquettes! But maybe hardwood charcoal ash will work? Anybody know? But the basic recipe seems to be; mix four pounds of raw, un-cracked green olives with 4 quarts of clean wood ash, mixed with water to make a thick, runny paste. Leave them (I guess refrigerated) for 10 to 12 days, stirring several times each day, until the olives detach from the pit easily. Then you go to step 2 above and cure them. But you don’t need to crack them as in step 1.

I hope this is interesting and useful and I look forward to trying out both variations.

8/12/2005 9:17 AM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

The olives are a fresh fruito I would start to process them as soon as possible after receiving them. The object of cracking the olives is to be able to leach the bitterness out. You can do more good in changing the water twice a day for the first 5 days then daily for an additional 5 days. There is no benifit to refrigerating the olives. I think 3 cups of salt to 4 of water is very salty, a 4.5 % to 5 % salt will give you an olive after it equilibrates that would be more palitable. That equates to 1/2lb. salt to 1 gallon of water. Step 4 of your receipe sound okay as far as the spicing, I have never used sugar. You will have to refrigerate because of the sugar and no vinegar, fermintation can start. I would stay away from the wood ashes and go with red devil lye that you can buy from the store because of known strenght We will have an easy to follow lye process on our we site shortly.

8/12/2005 5:06 PM  
Blogger drtisbeter said...

Exposing the olives to air might hide the brusing from the eye but the texture will remainis significantly lesser in quality, also lye-cured luques..? lye curing this almost perfect olive would be a real shame, it would destroy all it's delicate flavors and diminish it's fresh, crisp texture.

9/12/2005 7:18 AM  
Blogger laura said...

Dear Maurice,

How long can one store lye cured olives? How long can you store salt cured?



9/12/2005 2:44 PM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

exposing to air for short periods of time does not have nay negitive effect on the texture. the lye processing of the luques olive is the tradional way of curing the olive.

9/13/2005 6:20 AM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

oil cured olives can be stored for many years, the key is to dry them sufficiently so there is inadequate moisture to support spoilage organizims. then at time of usage the olive can be blanched in boiling water and retossed with olive oil for use. lye processed olive can last for 6 to 9 months in the refrigerator, but the enzyme activity will eventually cause sofening of the tissue and impart an unpleasent smell. this can be taken care of by making a 1% vinegar brine, 1 part of 5% vinegar to 4 parts water.

9/13/2005 6:30 AM  
Blogger mauriceclinton3580 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/15/2005 5:44 AM  
Blogger Stumpy and The Rooster said...

Hi, I am looking forward to ordering the Lucques olives and noticed your comment that they are traditionally lye cured. I would prefer to use your Mediterranean Partida Style Recipe - do you think it will be tasty with the Lucques or would you recommend a different olive variety?
Also is the recipe for 10#s of olives?

9/15/2005 2:07 PM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

you can use the partida process to cure the lucques variety, all you are doing is breaking the skin so the bitterness will leach out of the olive. since this is a new variety for us we do not have a lot of experience but we did notice when we fermented the olives last year it gave up it bitterness quickly compared to other varieties. the partida receipt is for 2.5 lbs. so just X 4 for 10 lbs.

9/16/2005 6:01 PM  
Blogger Marty said...

How long can you store olives cured using the partida process?

9/17/2005 2:34 PM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

Using vinegar and keeping refrigerated the olives will last a year or more.

9/17/2005 2:58 PM  
Blogger Marty said...

Thank you Maurice

In the partida curing recipe the salt called for is "table" salt, can Kosher or pickling salt be substituted?

9/17/2005 3:31 PM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

Kosher or pickling salt will work fine.

9/18/2005 8:07 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

I cured some olives using the lye process. The olives turned out wonderful. I then tried to can them using UC Davis publication 2758. I followed the directions exactly using a pressure canner. I allowed a one week stand time and then I tried them. They developed a terrible odor and taste. My question is: should I have used a vinegar solution in my brine? If so how much? Thank you for your time.

9/20/2005 3:27 PM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

i don't know why your olives would have developed an off flavor. it is not customery to acidify olives if you are doing a hot fill and hold per university directions.

9/21/2005 2:08 PM  
Blogger John A. said...

Hi. I'm so excited to get fresh lucque olives soon. What's the current ETA? Also, could you spell lucque phonetically, so I know how to pronounce it?

9/21/2005 5:52 PM  
Blogger fesenjen said...

What is the ideal vessel for curing and brining 10 pounds of olives? (material? size? seal-ability? Any aspects you consider significant)

Is there a particular pitting device you would recommend?

9/22/2005 1:25 PM  
Blogger fesenjen said...

More specifically on the vessel question-- would a ceramic vessel be good for curing in?

9/22/2005 1:32 PM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

ceramic croc is great but probably the cheapest and the most accesable is a plastic 5 gallon pail with cover.

9/23/2005 7:19 AM  
Blogger Albert said...

This is my first time ordering fresh olives and I want to do the Lye curing for the Sevillanos but I am so afraid of all the warnings on the Red Devil Lye bottle. It says toxic, danger, death, internal bleeding. How do I know when all the lye is washed away? if there is Lye residue inside the olvie will I be able to taste it? and if so will it hurt me? I just want to know about the safety or am I risking death?

9/29/2005 11:13 AM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

by changing the water dailey there will be no residual lye in the olive after 5 or 6 days. the water will no longer have any brownish color. don't be afraid of lye JUST USE IT PROPERLY. sodium is an industrial chemical used in the preparation of lots of foods.

9/29/2005 12:25 PM  
Blogger Stumpy and The Rooster said...

We received our Lucques and they looked beautiful! Then we cracked them and put them in water and they are turning brown.
We hit them each with a hammer to crack them, but perhaps we hit them too hard. Would you suggest slicing them with a knife instead?
Also, if any of the olives are exposed to the air they turn brown too, so for those of you just getting your olives make sure they don't sit at the top of your jar!

10/03/2005 12:31 PM  
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10/13/2005 7:45 PM  
Blogger Albert said...

I started the rinsing process 6 days ago but the water still comes out with a very slight tint of green. Does this mean there is still lye? They taste ok. Does the water have to be completely clear?

10/17/2005 7:15 PM  
Blogger Albert said...

I started the rinsing process 6 days ago but the water still comes out with a very slight tint of green. Does this mean there is still lye? They taste ok. Does the water have to be completely clear?

10/17/2005 7:15 PM  
Blogger Albert said...

I started the rinsing process 6 days ago but the water still comes out with a very slight tint of green. Does this mean there is still lye? They taste ok. Does the water have to be completely clear?

10/17/2005 7:15 PM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

the greenish color to the rinse water is the color pigment of the skin. if there is no bronish color to indicate residual lye you can stop rinsing and put about .4 of a lb or less of salt and the olives will be ready to eat in a couple of days.

10/18/2005 7:11 AM  
Blogger Paolo said...

Hello Maurice,

I received the Sevillano olives from you two days ago. They were beautiful, thanks! I washed them, cut each one, and put them to soak in water, per the Partida recipe. I have changed the water each day

I have a few questions:

Instead of striking each olive[because it seemed to bruise them, maybe I did it too hard], I sliced them with a knife. Will this work OK?

I noticed that the Partida recipe consists of 10 days' soaking in water [changed each day], then at least 4 days in brine. Will this be enough time to soften the olives?

I ask because right now the olives are quite hard. I have tried home-cured olives that were 'crunchy' and I wondered if it were because they were not cured long enough [I was not very fond of the crunchy consistency.]

thanks for your comments, ciao

10/19/2005 7:58 AM  
Blogger Albert said...

This was my 1st time curing and the Sevillanos came out great. No problems with the lye, they were actually ready at day 4 but I kept rinsing because I thought the green tint was lye. I brined some and added garlic and they are simply great. I also did a batch with vinegar that was horribly sour, I soaked them in water to get rid of the vinegar taste and re-salted them without vinegar, they are palatable now - have slight acid taste but nothing major. I ordered 10lbs of Manzanillas this PM since it's the last day to order I love this. I'll go all out next year and order 50lbs once I know what I'm doing. Thanks for this blog, the information was extremelly valuable. I'll take some to work tomorrow, I'm sure my coworkers will want to become your customers as well.

10/20/2005 6:26 PM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

cracking the olives or slice is done so the bitterness will leech out into the water that you are changing dailey. so preperations are cracked more so the pit can be removed. as far as discoloration, this will happen with cutting and more so with cracking. this olive will remain crisp unless you use a olive with higher maturity.

10/22/2005 7:18 AM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

i am pleased at your success and enjoyment at curing your own olives from scratch. the flavor can not be replicated by commercially produced olives because of the regulations. i hope your friends and family enjoy these olives in the comming hollidays.

10/22/2005 7:31 AM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

i ran out of room, but watch our site and in the next week or so i will post some cures for tree ripe olives.

10/22/2005 7:32 AM  
Blogger Jannyca said...

I just ran across your blog. It's GREAT! I have finished the lye and rinsing process for manzanilla olives. What kind of vinegar should I use? I want to try different seasonings, and I plan to waterbath some of them.
What suggestions?

10/29/2005 1:39 PM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

you can use white vineger or red wine vinegar, for the exotic, some chardonnay vinegar. for the hot water bath process, a salt brine is sufficient.

10/29/2005 4:19 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Today I picked my Manzanillo olives and most are maroon or black. Can I use the Partida Style for curing? The dry salt cure method sounds too salty and bitter. Also, am I understanding correctly, that I shouldn't lye cure the dark olives?

11/05/2005 4:48 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/05/2005 4:49 PM  
Blogger Gazza said...

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11/07/2005 7:41 AM  
Blogger Paul said...


I am new at this. I was just wondering if you had a good home reciepe for curing black olives. I noticed the partita method mentioned. Where can I look for info Thanks

11/09/2005 10:41 AM  
Blogger barbara said...

Maurice, I am using a large metal canning bowl to soak my olives in. I change the water each day. Is it harmful to use metal instead of the plastic or stone I am reading about?

11/13/2005 7:14 AM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

plastic, stoneware, crockery, stainless steel are all ok. i would never use aluminum or steel.

11/13/2005 9:22 AM  
Blogger Paolo said...

Hi, I just got my black olives yesterday evening. Before putting them into the "dry cure" with salt, must I slice them first?

11/16/2005 10:42 AM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

if you are using the dry rock salt method the olives need not be sliced since you will desicate the olives over a 5 to six week period.
the 1st week move the olives every two days, 2nd and 3rd week every 3 days, 4th-5th week every 5 days. it has to be done to change the contact points of the olives.

11/27/2005 12:47 PM  
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12/19/2005 1:47 AM  
Blogger Kro said...

Maurice -
I bought 30 pounds of olives from you back in September (you may remember we ended up finding the olives, an employee "hid" them by accident).

Anyhow...we have recently purchased an olive press and we would love to try it out to produce olive oil...we're looking to buy about 150 pounds of olives asap. Can you point me in the right direction?


12/22/2005 3:44 PM  
Blogger Mike Hammond said...

I'm new to curing and making olive oil. Altough I've made tons of wine from fresh fruit to juice with success.
I would like to salt and lye cure some olives plus possibly make some oil as well.
What is the best olives for lye curing and making olive oil.
And can I use my grape press to make olive oil?

12/27/2005 12:54 PM  
Blogger Mike Hammond said...

I'm new to curing and making olive oil. Altough I've made tons of wine from fresh fruit to juice with success.
I would like to salt and lye cure some olives plus possibly make some oil as well.
What is the best olives for lye curing and making olive oil.
And can I use my grape press to make olive oil?

12/27/2005 12:55 PM  
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1/20/2006 4:25 PM  
Blogger TestaDura said...

I have been brine curing 15 lb of black olives in a food grade container with 1 lb salt per 1 gal water.
Recently I had a white film on the top of the water (olives are held below the surface).
I tasted one and it was very salty. Are they OK with the white film.. What is it.. and what can I do?

2/07/2006 10:19 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I see several posts where you say you're going to post a collection of various curing techniques... is that still the plan?

3/13/2006 8:07 AM  
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5/05/2006 11:40 AM  
Blogger tinuch said...

I have watered cured green olives for the last two years. They aways turn out fabulous. This year I am trying my hand with Black Sevillano. You have a water cured recipie posted. I have found a "brine cured" recipie consisting of 1 3/4 cup salt to 7 quarts of water, which is enough to cover 20 lbs of olives. The brine is change every week for up to six weeks. Have you had any experience with this proccess?

11/23/2006 7:59 AM  
Blogger napetersen said...

How long can freshly picked olives last before they must be cured? Will keeping fresh olives in the refrigerator make them last longer so that we don't have to cure them all at the same time?

9/30/2007 4:01 PM  
Blogger Maurice Penna said...

Fresh olives should be cured as soon as they are received. Please ask future questions in the 2007 post for fresh olives and I can provide a quicker response, thanks for your question.

10/07/2007 7:46 PM  

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