Table Olive Recipes
At Pacific Sun Farms, along with olive oil, we produce a small amount of table olives. We use a traditional, artisanal method using brine (salt and water), that very slowly pulls the bitterness out of the olive through its pores. This process takes months, sometimes more than one year, depending on ripeness and cultivars. We cure mostly Kalamatas, Sevillanos, Manzanillos and Lucques too.
In the initial phase of the curing, sugars in the olive produce a lacto- fermentation that brings a nice flavor and great health benefits from the good bacteria (lactobacillus planctarum) that grows in it.
Nowadays, most commercial olives are cured with lye (caustic soda). This is a method favored by the industry (it takes only hours and a couple of days of rinsing) which can make good olives (basically non-bitter olives) though strips all the goodness out of the olives.
Instead, with the brine method, a great deal of antioxidants are kept in the olive, which make it a food of great nutritional value. And since these antioxidants are there, a wider range of flavors are present: some bitterness, some piquancy, as well as the saltiness from the brine, the milky flavor of the fermentation, some sweetness from the olive pulp.
Olives like ours offer lots of flavors by themselves. They’re also a good opportunity to be the base of a tasty appetizer if you add to them. Here we offer two recipes:
Marinated Olives in Lemon Juice and Bay Leaves
This is a way to dress olives that is typical of North African countries such as Tunisia and Morocco:
- 8 oz. of green or black olives (this recipe works for both)
- Zest of ½ small lemon
- Juice of half small lemon
- 5 bay leaves, crushed to small pieces
- 2 oz. of EVOO (Pacific Sun Farms Eva’s Blend is ideal for this (or any medium-mild olive oil with not too much bitterness, which you already have from the bay leaves and the lemon zest)
In a bowl, place the olives, lemon zest, lemon juice and the bay leaves. Mix well. Add the EVOO and mix well again. Leave in the fridge for a couple of days. Serve at room temperature.
Since California has so many wild bay leaves (laurel), it’s a good idea to go foraging and use wild leaves.
This is a fascinating appetizer that offers so many options to play with. In any case, it will be a nice surprise for your guests, since most people have never tried olives in this fashion.
The dish works better when you mix different types of olives (what you want is a variety of shapes, sizes and colors) and when they’re not salty. If the olives taste salty or briny, soak them in water overnight and this should fix them. If not, leave them a bit more until the other flavors of the olive (bitterness, sweetness, pungency) are as present as ?saltiness.??
Most citruses go well with this dish and with dressing olives in general.? Tangerine, orange and bergamot are perfect in this case. Lemon and kumquat are more towards the acidic side, though if well balanced can make a great condiment.
Other spices to try: coriander seeds, celery seeds, dill seeds, fresh sage and fresh rosemary (this one in tiny amounts due to its bitterness). You can also replace the garlic with shallots.
- 2 cups of mixed olives
- Zest of ½ tangerine
- Juice of 1 tangerine
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon of fennel seeds
- 2 small cinnamon sticks
- ½ teaspoon of fresh thyme
- Parsley leaves
- 2 oz. of EVOO for sautéing. Eva’s blend is again a good option for this recipe.
Pit the olives and put them with the rest of the ingredients in a pan.?Cook with low heat for about 8 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.?Let it rest for another 5 minutes.
Chop the parsley, add to the pan and serve warm, with slices of white bread (baguette, ciabatta or any country side bread). Don’t toast the bread since you’ll need it for soaking up the juices of the dish.