We are continuing to have a mild fall. Today the sky is clear and the temperature is in the 60s. We have had some rain and fog in the past two weeks, but not enough cold weather to completely kill the summer vegetable garden. Amazingly, my cherry tomatoes are still hanging in there, producing about a cup of tomatoes each week. It's getting a bit cold for the basil, though, and it's on its way out. We are continuing to enjoy our passion fruit harvest, which is coming in slowly. I have been harvesting the fruits while they are still green and allowing them to ripen inside on the counter. Yum.
The most exciting new development in our garden is that our four year old olive tree produced a small crop of olives for the first time this year! It's not a huge crop by any means--probably only about a pint or so--but they look good. Most of the olives are still green now, but a few have started to show some color. I plan to harvest them in the next week, and will try to cure them at home.
In preparation for this experimental home curing project, I asked a friend with a local farm if she had a good recipe for home curing olives. She pointed me in the right direction, and also generously picked two gallons of olives for me from her own trees! I have spent the last few days preparing her olives for the curing process. It's time consuming and a bit messy, but it will be quite worth it if they taste as good as they look.
To begin the curing process, I first, sorted the olives and removed all of the leaves, sticks, and damaged fruit. Next, I washed the olives and left them overnight in a bucket of water to start the soaking process. The following day, I spent a few hours making two cuts in each and every olive, to help the curing process proceed more quickly. I then put the olives in a salt water brine (1/4 cup salt per 5 cups of water), and left them to soak. The recipe I am following says to change this brine daily for 12 days and then test the olives to see if the bitterness has completely leached away. When it has, you then soak the olives in a weaker salt solution for a day or two, and then drain them, add spices and other flavorings, and a light amount of salt and vinegar. Stay tuned for the results!