How to Pickle Olives

This is the method I always use to pickle olives. Mostly I use our lovely big kalamata olives (which are great eating olives) but also the varieties we grow for oil, such as frantoio which while they are smaller, I think have lots of concentrated flavour.  After they are ready, it’s really important to soak them in water to diminish the saltiness of the brine.  I think a lot of people who are iffy about olives are justifiably so because some olives are very salty and watery.  Dee Nolan

  1. Rinse olives in clean water and remove stems.
  2. Place olives on a clean cutting board. Bang them with a hammer to bruise them or make three slits around each olive with a small, serrated knife.  This lets the brine (salted water) penetrate the fruit and draw out the bitterness.
  3. Make a brine with a ratio of half a cup of salt to 10 cups of water. Make sure the salt is dissolved. How much brine you’ll need will depend on the quantity of olives you have  - the olives must be completely submerged in the brine.
  4. Place olives in the brine.  Place a clean plate on top of them to ensure they stay submerged.
  5. Replace water daily for about 10 days after which taste them to check whether the bitterness has gone.  Let your taste buds be the judge.
  6. When you are satisfied the bitterness has gone, drain the olives and measure the volume of water.  Discard the water.
  7. Make a new salt brine.  Put the same volume of fresh warm water as you’ve measured in Step 6, and dissolve salt into the water at a ratio of one cup of salt to 10 cups of water.   Bring the brine to the boil and allow to cool. 
  8. Place olives in clean, sterilized jars and pour the brine over them until the olives are completely submerged.  Pour a one centimetre layer of good extra olive oil on top of the brine to stop air getting to the fruit.  Seal with lids and store in a cool place.  They will last for at least 12 months.


Pour off the brine and fill the jar with fresh cool water to draw.  This is to draw out excess salt.  If after 24 hours they are still too salty for your taste, change the water daily until the olives are to your taste.   


Marinated olives: Shake as much water as possible off the olives or even roll them in a tea towel to dry them.  Place them in a clean jar and cover with  good extra virgin olive oil (Nolans Road!) with whatever flavourings you fancy (herbs, chillies etc…the combinations are endless).  Make sure the olives and flavourings are submerged in oil before sealing the jar.

NOTE Unless you plan to eat the olives soon, it’s important that your flavourings are dehydrated.  Fresh herbs, lemon zest, garlic, chillies etc contain water which can cause a microbiological reaction and make the olives unsafe to eat.