We're trying a new food project this month. About ten years ago a friend sent me two olive trees for my birthday. They were about two feet tall, and looked like rooted sprigs. I potted them and have loved and nursed them ever since. They grew to about four feet after several years and several new pots. Not until we took them to the NC coast and planted them in the ground did they really grow. After two years they are taller than our heads, and for the first time, filled with olives.
My husband and I disagreed about what to do with the crop. He wanted to press them for their oil, but with only two trees I didn't think they would yield very much. I thought curing them made more sense, plus if they tasted good, there would be lots of opportunities to share, and I could say each time we ate them, 'You won't believe this, but we grew these olives!' So, cure them we did.
As it turned out, it was fairly simple. There are several different methods. I chose gently cracking the olives and soaking them in cold water for several days, changing the water a couple of times a day until the bitterness is leached out of the olives and into the water. Then you pack them in salt water with a little vinegar, and any other additions you want—garlic, thyme, rosemary, lemon, jalapeño, etc., and let them brine for thirty days in the refrigerator. You can store them for up to a year in the frig.
I have since learned that where olives are grown, raw olives are sold each season and many people brine their own. I'm hoping we'll have another successful crop next year, and if we keep adding trees, maybe someday we'll have a large enough crop to press for oil!