A few weeks ago I finally harvested the olives from our back yard trees. It was tricky this year, with loads still green and unripe when the first ones were ready, and we had perfect, sunny days. Then there was a long run of rainy weather where ladder climbing would have been reckless. So frustrating! Birds made off with the biggest, juiciest olives whilst I looked on, crossly.
Finally we had the perfect olives coinciding with the perfect weather, but not before much of the booty had been pilfered.
Last year, a lovely lady from our dog walking group suggested I give it a go, and even brought me a recipe for preserving olives. I’d never even considered it. Preserving your own olives seemed to me something only experienced Greek or Italian Nonas should attempt. I felt like a fraud.
I faced my misgivings and had a go anyway. We had 4 spindly, young trees that had been planted no more than 3 years previously, in our tiny courtyard along the fence line to screen out next door’s house. They were laden with fruit. I picked an incredible 9.5 kilos of fabulous, enormous kalamata olives, followed the recipe to the letter, and was rewarded by the most delicious olives we’d ever tasted. I was unbelievably excited and proud. You should have seen me strutting about – veggies, eggs and now our own olives. It made me disproportionately happy! Mr.B was putting them out on platters whenever anyone dropped by – garnished with sprigs of thyme from the garden. I think he felt like the gentleman farmer for a moment. There was even a nano-second where he thought getting our own bee-hive was a good idea!
This year the harvest wasn’t nearly as bountiful, but they were pretty big and juicy. I harvested only 3.5 kilos this time – those birds must have been pretty happy with the bad weather!
So we have 12 jars of treasure sitting in a dark, cool cupboard. They’ll be there for a while until they’re ready for the next stage, and then I’ll break open the extra virgin olive oil, herbs, chillies, spices and any other fancy, gourmet trappings I can think of. I can’t wait. Why don’t you drop by in a few months, and we’ll open a bottle of wine and try them.
Originally published 15/06/2014