Friday, December 10, 2010

No cure, I'm afraid

I've been writing this post in my head for a week, but couldn't find the pictures. Then they were found, while I was doing something for homeschooling records. I've been meaning to cure my own olives for some time, and after my cousins in Sicily told me that it was really easy (at least, that's what I think they said; my Italian is questionable), I was even more determined to do so.

I made my eldest child help me pick "a jarful" of olives across from the most populated shopping center in town. She really appreciated that.

This is how most of my new projects are designed: jump right in but use the wonders of the internet to figure out how to follow through.

There are lots of recipes for olives here, and I chose just a straight brine cure. A quick slit in each olive, to let the brine in, and I figured I was on my way. They weren't very big.

I poured a cup of salt on them and topped it off with I think two cups of water. I weighed them down with a plastic bag full of water, so they'd stay under the brine.

Then all that was left was to wait a bit, check the olives, and proceed.

Alas, I do not have pictures of the next part of the process, but the next day I looked in the jar, and the water had started to discolor, which was great, but there were also small, grub-looking things suspended in the water underneath the floating olives. What could they be? Could I (ick) eat the olives anyhow?

Back to the computer. I discovered what my nemeses were. . . olive flies. And no, I could not just go ahead and eat them, or not with a lot of enjoyment. And control seems like a pain, also, so I was at least glad that I found them before putting a lot more effort into them. I had also planned to plant two trees! Now I have space, rather than difficult trees.

Maybe I can find someone around here in a non-infested area to get me some uncured olives, or maybe there is simply no cure for me.


Daphne Gould said...

Thats too bad. I never knew olives had insect issues too, but I guess all fruits do.

Ribbit said...

Ick, ick, ick.

Try, try again!

Stefaneener said...

Daphne, I suppose they do. I thought they were bomb-proof. But nooooo.

Ribbit, you got it. Ick cubed, indeed

Erin said...

oh no! I was thinking to have a couple of potted olive trees a few years back but never did it LOL!

chaiselongue said...

Oh, that is bad news....olive fly can ruin a crop. There are ways of dealing with it, and best of all (so I've been told by an olive grower) is to grow a small variety with less flesh so it doesn't attract the fly - arbequina is the variety used near here for this reason.

If you manage to get unaffected olives, I can recommend a very simple way of curing them I've used this year - simply mix salt into the olives (pricked with a fork if you want to be really quick), add herbs and leave, stirring and draining occasionally, until they don't taste bitter any more. Put them in spring water for a couple of days, then drain and put in jars, then cover them with olive oil until you want to eat them.

Rachel said...

My boss gave me a big bag of olives from his trees this year. We went through them and 75% had olive fly maggots. But we did keep the 25%. Unfortunately he gave them to us a day before we went on vacation so we weren't able to do anything with them. You can always harvest a bunch and then go through them. You'll know which ones have maggots because they'll have little holes in them.

Heiko said...

The area around here least effected by olive fly is the compulsory orhanic area of the Val di Vara. The reason for that is that if you don't spray nasties in an area where your neighbours do, the whole population concentrates on your trees. Organic protection methods are traps using some sort of hormones they like.

Kristin said...

Thanks for the olive recipe links. We have a few perfectly ripe black olives on our 2 new olive trees; the rest of the olives are still green. I may try a quickie recipe using both the green and black olives together in a salt brine.

--As far as diving in and then figuring it out by using on-line resources--I'm all for it. We're benefiting from your trials and your research!

Stefaneener said...

Erin, you might *not* have olive fly. It's easy to note if you can find other olive trees.

chaiselongue, I knew I couldn't be the only person dealing with it, nor us the only place. Your method is an elegant one.

Rachel, I just might do it. Not the best time of year for harvesting and fiddly sorting, though. I just realized how behind I am.

Heiko, yes, it's difficult being the only non-chemical farmer in an area. One tiny reason an urban environment is easier, I think. More distractions.

Kristin, I'm interested in your experiments.

kitsapFG said...

Well that is a bit of a bummer! I was all excited to think you were branching out (pardon the pun!) into olives but the olive fly maggots would have put me off of the idea too.

Annie*s Granny said...

Takes me back to the day I pitted an entire box of pie cherries, put them in the jars, poured on the hot sugar syrup...and watched the little white maggots rise to the top of each jar. That was in the early (poor) days of marriage, and it broke my heart to throw out all those cherries, and waste all of that sugar, but there was no way I was going to skim off the worms and eat the fruit!

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Wow, I don't know which is worse, the olive story or the cherry story.

What a heartbreak.

By the way, you are My Hero for poaching (er, liberating) olives from a shopping center!