Last week I went over to my aunt’s house and there was a blue bowl filled with chunky green olives. It’s a funny thing those olives; they look so pretty but you can’t just go ahead and eat them. If olives could talk, they would say “patience is a virtue”. You either have to cure them, or squeeze them to enjoy them. I asked my aunt if she could teach me how to make “elies tsakistes”, literally translated to mean crushed olives, but I prefer describing these as coriander crushed olives because – to me – that is the dominant flavour. When I went to my aunt’s house she was having her house painted and shower renovated so was busy cleaning up all the dust left behind from the painters. She handed me a rock and a slab of stone and hurried me outside to a chair. “I’ll show you one” she said and proceeded to smash an olive so that it cracked open – not completely – but a large crack nonetheless. She said “now you crack them, but not too hard and not to little”. So I sat down and proceeded to crack open my little pile of olives and put them in a jam jar. Once I finished and my aunt came into the kitchen, she said “now fill the jar up with water and leave it for seven 7 days”. So I did. Making “elies tasakistes” is not difficult. I imagine the hard part, if you do not live in the Mediterranean, is actually sourcing some fresh and lovely green olives. The recipe below will last you for 2 to 3 months. In the recipe below, the flavours are added after the olives are ready to eat. I am also working on a recipe where the flavours are added in the brine itself. They aren’t ready yet, so I will let you know when they are.
1 heaped cup ripe and fresh green olives (do not use any that appear to be bruised)
water for curing purposes
For the brine:
1/4 cup salt
2 cups water
2 tbs lemon juice
olive oil to cover the top of the olives to preserve them
For the olive dressing for 1/2 cup of olives:
1/4 clove chopped garlic (add more to taste if you wish)
squeeze of fresh lemon
pinch of coriander seeds
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Take the green olives and crack them open using a stone (see the collage picture above). Do not crack the stone of the olives.
2. Put the cracked olives in a jar, fill with water and close the top. Leave for eight days, changing the water every two days. (We do this so that the bitterness leaves the olives).
3. On the 9th day rinse the olives well with water.
4. In a separate bowl, prepare the brine. Add the salt, water, lemon juice and stir until dissolved.
5. Place the olives in a jar, remove any that appear mushy and bruised. Pour in the brine until the olives are covered with brine. (You may not need all the brine). Pour olive oil on top of the olives and brine to form a layer of olive oil. This prevents any oxygen from getting in and will help preserve the olives for longer.
6. Store the olives in a cool cupboard, they will last for about 2-3 months.
7. The olives can be eaten on the 9th day as well, but are better enjoyed at least one week after they have been placed in brine. When ready to eat, place 1/2 cup of olives in a bowl. Add 1/4 clove of chopped garlic, a pinch of coriander seeds, a squeeze of fresh lemon, drizzle a little olive oil and add salt and pepper (if necessary depending on how long the olives have been in brine) to taste. Enjoy!