Traditionally, the process for making brined olives involved hanging raw olives, each scored with a knife and dropped into a mesh bag, off a village shipping dock into the salty water of the sea.
Lacking a village dock or salty seawater, here's a way to make brined olives that results in a comparable end product. The initial water and salt curing process is similar to making lacto-fermented foods. It is very close to the process used to make kalamata olives.
- 1 quart (just under a kilo) raw red or brown olives
- 3/4 cup (177 ml) sea, kosher, or other non-iodized salt
- 1/4 cup (0.60 ml) red wine or apple cider vinegar
- Remove any stems or leaves and compost or discard them. Rinse the olives briefly underscore each olive lengthwise with the tip of a sharp paring knife 1 to 3 times.
- Place the scored olives into a large bowl or medium sized pot. The bowl or pot should be made of a non-reactive material (no aluminum, copper, or non-enameled cast iron).
- Cover the olives with cool water. Place a plate that is slightly smaller than the rim of the pot or bowl on top of the olives. Place a clean weight (a pint jar of water works well) on top of the plate. The point of the plate and weight is to keep the olives submerged beneath the liquid.
- Leave the olives in the water for 3 days.
- Drain the olives in a colander. Put them back into the bowl or pot. Make a brine by dissolving 3 tablespoons of the salt in 1 quart (1 liter) of water. Pour the brine over the olives. Replace the plate and weight. Leave for 1 week.
- Repeat the drain, brine, weight, leave for 1 week. Repeat 2 more times (one month plus three days total brining time).
- Drain the olives. Transfer the olives to clean glass jars (it is not necessary to sterilize the jars for this recipe).
- Make a brine with the same ratio of 1 1/2 tablespoons salt to 1 pint (1/2 liter) water. Stir in the red wine or apple cider vinegar. Pour the brine over the olives.
- Tightly cover the olives and store in the refrigerator or a cool cellar or garage for up to 1 year. The flavor will improve if you wait a week or two before sampling.
- Add a few sprigs of fresh herbs and a few whole black peppercorns to the jars when you cover the olives in the final vinegar-added brine.
- Serve combined with dry salt-cured olives for a nice taste and texture contrast.