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).
Both sets of olives are really unattractive at this point (revolting would be a more accurate word) and I am starting to worry that I have botched both techniques.
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 edible. Maybe.