Sunday, 3 July 2011

How to prepare green olives for eating

The great Cypriot way of preparing green olives (cakistes or tsakistes) is to make them edible by cracking. The following recipe is one method of producing your own tasty green olives. 

Pick about 2kg of plump blemish free green olives, usually from late September till late October in Cyprus, thoroughly wash removing any stalks or leaves and then dry them in the midday sun.

Once completely dry place each one on a large flat stone and hit gently with another smaller flat stone or wooden mallet to crack the flesh but not the olive stone. This is a messy job and best done outside, away from the house and wearing a plastic apron, as the oil splatters everywhere. Put the olives into a large plastic or glass jar and cover with cold water, you will have to insert a smaller lid before sealing to ensure all the olives stay submerged or use a jar with an inverted lid.

Change the water daily for the next seven days which will remove their bitterness and on day eight rinse well  and drain. Make up enough salt solution to cover the olives, this will be approximately 100g of rock salt for every litre of water required.

Pack the olives tightly into a clean jar and pour in the salt solution, tapping the jars base to ensure all air is released. Then pour a good layer of olive oil over the surface to seal and replace the jar lid tightly. Before adding the olive oil you may also add about seven crushed garlic bulbs, one lemon sliced finely and three tablespoons of crushed coriander seeds to add flavour.

Store your jar in a dark cool place for about four weeks, after which the olives are ready to enjoy. Your olives are now ready to be rinsed to remove any excess salt and dressed with lemon and fresh coriander for serving as mezes or undressed and used in a variety of recipes. 

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