I was invited for a Shabbat meal at the Rabbi’s house here in Wellington a few weeks ago, this was a traditional Jewish Shabbat meal. Khayim Dovrat came with his wife Tova from Israel a few years ago for their 2nd delegation as the Rabbi for the Jewish community. In the beginning of the meal there were all sorts of pickles, and breads and other starters that Tova made. She is a great cook, believe me, all the food on the table was very tasty, the type that any restaurant would be proud of. Among other things there were olives.
I love olives and when I eat them, I eat them fast. And when I do that – I get a heck of a stomach ache, but when I ate Tova’s home made pickled olives I was fine. I was not sick and could enjoy her pickled olives. I had to ask her how she does that, and she explained to me that olives from the factory are being mixed with some sort of acid that soften them quickly. It is not a natural pickling so that is why I always feel it in my stomach.
Here is the whole process step by step:
Collect your olives from an olive grove. You can find a grove near your town and offer to pay for your harvest. I was talking the other day to the organic shop manager here in Wellington about milk in New Zealand. It is illegal to sell raw milk in New Zealand and so if you want raw milk you got to buy a share of a cow in a dairy farm. Quite a lot of people are doing it so you can do the same with olives.
Make a slot in each olive. Wash them with running water and make a slot half way through on each olive, just like Rabbi Khayim shows you in the video. Some people prefer to knock the olives to make this process quicker but that can break the stone which will make the olives even more bitter.
Place the olives in fresh tap water. This will take the bitterness out of the olives. You must replace the water once or twice every day over the course of ten days so that the olives will not sit in the same water all that time. When you pour the water out, you will notice it has color. This is the bitterness coming out of the olives.
Take a large glass jar. Sanitize the jar with boiled water. So basically you pour boiled hot water over the jar, inside out. Place a metal spoon inside the jar so that it will not snap. Tova and Rabbi Khayim told me that placing metal inside the glass jar prevents the glass from being snapped with hot water.
Place layers of olives, garlic and lemon in the jar. Now you are ready to place the olives in the jar so that they will be pickled. Place a layer of about two inches olives, then a layer of garlic cloves and a layer of roughly chopped whole lemons. Then another layer of olives and keep going in that order until the jar is full.
Prepare a solution of water and salt. In a clean bowl put one cup of salt and 10 cups of water and pour it on top of the olives in the jar. You may have noticed that we already have 2 natural preservatives. salt and lemon. That will keep the olives edible for years.
Pour a layer of extra virgin olive oil. The oil will act as a sealer and prevent air from coming in contact with the olives thus keeps them away from acid. All you need is a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil. Of course every oil will do here but EV olive oil is best.
Place in a cool dark place for a minimum of two months. Close the jar and place it in the cupboard or anywhere cool and dark for at least two months. The olives are ready to eat in two months time but the longer it is there, the better and tastier they are.
For your health, or LABREE-OOT as we say in Hebrew.
Roy Gol is an expert Nutrition Adviser and creator and owner of Acai House
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Photo. Vagelis Dimas