Home-made olives

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On the back of our verge gardening, a neighbour from down the street asked if it would be reasonable to plant an olive tree next to their house. Of course I said: go for it!

A guerrilla-gardened olive tree in the verge.
A guerrilla-gardened olive tree in the verge.

Fast forward only a few years, and the small tree started producing olives. They sat on the tree, ripening, and eventually starting to fall onto the street. So you know me: I hate seeing something go to waste…

So we took a small ladder around, and harvested about half a bucket’s worth. Not a huge amount, but still quite a few.

A small harvest of olives, ready for pickling...
A small harvest of olives, ready for pickling…

Now olives can’t be eaten fresh, as they contain a very bitter substance that needs to be treated away. A bit of Googling found an excellent resources from the University of California titled Olives: Safe Methods for Home Pickling.

It outlines seven different methods, and I chose the kalamata-style approach.

Olives 'de-bitering' in a jar of water for 20 days
Olives ‘de-bitering’ in a jar of water for 20 days

This involves soaking/fermenting the olives in water for 20 days, changing the water each day.

Our home-made vinegar, produced from left-over wine
Our home-made vinegar, produced from left-over wine

After that, the olives were pickled in a mix of brine and red wine vinegar. (My home-made vinegar, by the way, created from left-over bottles of wine.)

Three jars of home-made olives...
Three jars of home-made olives…

Now I don’t actually like olives, but I’m assured that the results were excellent (a ‘very mild’ flavour, and ‘the best olives I’ve had’). Now I can’t confirm the veracity of these statements, but it was a fun process, and actually not very labour intensive.

All in all, it was a good proof of concept, and I think I’ll give it another go next season, if there’s a good crop…


From little things, big things grow

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One of two olive trees, transplanted from pots into the nature strip

I’ve been very active on our nature strip, madly guerilla gardening in several citrus trees, a bay tree, kaffir lime, and lemon-scented tea tree. My next step is to progressively get rid of the grass which is competing with the trees (no small task, will be waiting for some cooler weather!).

One of the residents from down the road dropped by one day to ask about the trees: did I ask for permission from the Council first? “Well, I could’ve” was my response.

After some further discussions, he revealed that he had two olive trees that had outgrown their pots, and  was wondering whether they could be planted into the nature strip in front of their house. I said: why not! The following weekend they went into the nature strip, and they’re growing well a month or two later.

As they say: from little things, big things grow. Who knows, maybe we’ve started a local movement. 🙂