Dry Salt-Cured Olives

dry cured olives
Tony Robins/Photolibrary/Getty Images
  • 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 quart (32 servings)
Ratings (67)

This is one of the simplest ways to cure olives. The result is identical to the full-flavored, slightly wrinkled "oil cured" black olives that you can buy.

Unlike water-cured olives, these are usually served without the embellishment of herbs or other seasonings.

What You'll Need

  • 2 pounds (1 kg) small, ripe black olives
  • 1 pound (0.45 kg) kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

How to Make It

  1. Choose fully ripe, small olives for dry salt-curing. Remove and discard any stems that are still attached. Rinse the olives clean with water and drain them well in a colander.
  2. With the tip of a sharp paring knife, prick 1 or 2 small holes in each olive.

Glass Jar or Crock Method

  1. Spread a 1/4-inch thick layer of the salt over the bottom of a large glass jar or ceramic crock. Add a layer of olives on top of the salt. It's okay if the layer is 2 olives deep, but it shouldn't be more than that.
  1. Cover the layer of olives with more salt. Add another layer of olives. Repeat until all the olives are completely covered in salt.
  2. Leave at room temperature, stirring the olives or shaking the jar once a day and adding more salt if necessary to keep the olives covered.

    The olives will start to exude their bitter juices and the salt will turn into a moist paste. If it becomes totally liquid, drain the olives and return them to the container with fresh layers of salt.

Muslin Bag Method

  1. Alternatively, combine the olives and salt in a muslin bag (a clean pillow case will work if you don't use fabric softener or other perfumed laundry products).
  2. Hang the bag over a bucket or bowl so that any liquid that leaches out of the olives during the curing process doesn't make a mess.

After 3 weeks of either method:

  1. Rinse the salt off of an olive and taste it. If it is still too bitter, continue to cure the olives, adding salt to absorb the juices, and testing the flavor about once a week. When ready, olives cured by the dry salt method will have shriveled up and have a very mildly bitter but pleasant flavor.
  2. Once the olives have reached that stage, brush off or very quickly rinse off the salt. If you rinse, spread the olives out in a single layer and let them dry off completely before proceeding. This can take several hours (overnight is fine).
  3. Toss the cured olives with 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Store at room temperature for up to 1 month, in the refrigerator for up to 6 months, or in the freezer for up to a year.