Calling olive experts..

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Ricasso
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Calling olive experts..

Postby Ricasso » Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:42 pm

I've picked a few olives from my trees on my newly acquired Finca. The trees have been neglected and I hope to get them functioning again with a bit of pruning.
Anyway, the olives I've picked are not too bad in size and of a purple(ish) colour. (I picked them in early January).
I've slit them and soaked them in salty water (from directions I found on the internet) and after about 4 weeks, drained them and had a taste. Not too bad taste and texture-wise. Much of the bitterness has gone. The brine solution was the colour of the olive (purpleish), but it looks like the brine has take the colour out of the olives. They look a bit anaemic. Is this normal??

Anyway, I've re-pickled them now in a solution of half brine and vinegar and added garlic cloves, lemon slices and chilli flake to flavour them and put the in a dark cupboard for a few weeks.

My question is, how come the colour's gone a bit bleak? How do yo get a better, more appetising colour? Green would be great (I guess they have to be picked earlier). Purple-ish is fine as is black but this washed-out colour looks a bit, well, un-appetising!

Can anyone give any advice to make them look a bit - normal?

Many thanks..
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Re: Calling olive experts..

Postby Flexo » Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:17 pm

Not all types are for eating, most are just for oil production.

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Re: Calling olive experts..

Postby Gasman » Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:45 am

Really for pickling using the method you are using you need to use the green olives. Pick them when you see a change in texture as they get fat, when they have a sort of bloom on the surface ... you will know they are ready when a few start to turn purple anyway! Usually October into November is the time but depends a lot on variety and climatic conditions. We have found the best way to do black olives is the "Israeli" or Greek methods - pack in salt (we use well-scrubbed old plastic paint tubs) and pour off the liquid which develops, pack down with more salt, and then rinse off after a couple of weeks (the recipe says after a few days but we find it takes longer!), Taste for bitterness, pack in olive oil with oregano or herb of your choice, in suitable sized jars. They dont keep as long as the green pickled ones but are very tasty.
We made the same mistake as you when we first moved in, and the black ones really do look weird when they lose their colour!! Also you need the crispness of the green olive flesh for the slit/pickling method. You may wonder how the commercially produced green olives are done without slitting to get our the bitterness - they are rapidly "cured" in a lye solution (Caustic-Soda) which only takes a few hours to achieve, but not the same quality at all, and what do you do with the Lye solution to get rid of it - nasty caustic stuff!!!

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Re: Calling olive experts..

Postby olive » Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:35 pm

We hadn't been here very long and offered Spanish olive farming friends tinned black olives. They ate everything else but left the olives. They said they were green olives chemically treated to make them black. Bit rich when you see how green tinned olives are processed.

Lifted from another web site. "Ripe Black Olives" in a can are actually olives which are neither black nor ripe when they are picked. They are picked very green and then cured using dilute brine and lye solutions. Lye treatments cause natural phenolic compounds in the olives to oxidize to a black color."

I saw on a TV programme the other day how they make tinned grapefruit segments. Astonishingly mostly done by hand once the whole fruit had been soaked. However the skin off individual segments was dissolved by a chemical. Further on the segments were bathed in an alkali to comabt the acid process and then bingo perfectly edible and yet protective clothing was worn at both stages. Sometimes it is best not to know how food is processed......

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Re: Calling olive experts..

Postby Ricasso » Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:59 pm

Fascinating information! It's scary what they do to food though. Tampering with olives like that is scrilege!
(Gasman) - we moved in in early December and they were all purple by then so I'm guessing we missed their green moment. I have heard of the 'dry' salt method but the Lye terrifies me! Maybe I'll catch them early this year and try that. That's if they're edible olives, that is (Flexo) - Is there a way of finding that out? Mine tasted ok..
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Re: Calling olive experts..

Postby Flexo » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:11 pm

Ricasso wrote: That's if they're edible olives, that is (Flexo) - Is there a way of finding that out? Mine tasted ok..


It is not that they aren't edible, it is just that they aren't used for it. Just try to identify which cultivar it is, it is easier to make an assessment that way.

Ricasso
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Re: Calling olive experts..

Postby Ricasso » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:29 pm

Thanks but I don't think that that's possible as the trees are really quite old and neglected.. but I guess if they end up tasting ok...
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Re: Calling olive experts..

Postby Gasman » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:39 pm

A lot of the ones grown specifically for oil production are smaller than average - remember that it is actually the nut inside the fruit that gives most of the oil (hence milling and grinding them down before pressing) so a higher percentage of nut to flesh gives better oil production. The bigger the fruit, the better for pickling. Ours are nearly all medium to large size, some with a pointy end to them, some fat and well-rounded. However we also have a couple of trees that give tiny, tiny ones - I have pickled them too - they go pink before they go purple so look rather cute in the jar ... longer in the brine soaking stage, but no need to cut into each one! They are rather nice too. So if you dont have a cooperative nearby or not enough crop to bother for oil, you can pickle all sorts.
Next doors have a couple of trees that give HUGE olives - they do them in caustic soda - seems a shame - but they are luscious. They do all their others for oil. Picking for oil, we are told that you should do them as the tree has at least every green olive turning colour, and at least some black- gives a nice firm mix for milling. They do not need to be entirely black for oil-production. However for the Israeli pickling method they should be really purply-black and ripe.
It gives a good excuse to wander round the finca, looking intelligent, and gazing up into your olive branches, choosing which tree to use for what!
Do remember during the growing season to spray as necessary, especially for the olive fruit fly (relative of the Mediterranean fruit fly) or your crop could be ruined!! It is also a good thing to take off all old fruit and clear the area under the trees cos that is where the eggs/larvae of the fly live over-winter!
Now is the time to be pruning - take out dead stuff, trim off unnecessary new growth, shape, trim out excess from the middle to let air through, and bob is your uncle! Then soon you will be getting the new growth with the flower buds along the stems.

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Re: Calling olive experts..

Postby Ricasso » Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:11 am

Thanks for all this info, I'm learning quite a lot about this subject!
I only have 4 old trees but it would be nice to get them productive. I was just a bit worried that if the olives are for oil 'only', they might be harmful or at least unpleasant to eat and of course waste all the time and cost pickling them. I heard that 'pink-flowering' almonds aren't edible (I have a couple of those too), and should be used for oil, cosmetics, cooking as they contain too higher quantities of cyanide! - was just wondering if that was the same for olives..
I have a Spanish gardener who's giving me a hand with clearing some of my land and have asked him to prune the trees but he can't do it until May. Do you think it's too late to prune then? Thanks again everyone...
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Re: Calling olive experts..

Postby jhonie99 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:31 am

Why not prune them yourself. You can't do any harm. Too many foreigners seek perfection. Give it a go - the "expert" Spaniards won't have any more knowledge than yourself. They just have bigger mouths!!

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Re: Calling olive experts..

Postby Gasman » Fri Feb 23, 2018 1:06 pm

As to purning - we were in Portugal during the olive harvest season and were fascinated to see how they do theirs in the small campos anyway ... a lot of the branches, and I mean big branches, that have the bulk of the olives on, they just chop off with a chain saw at the main branch and let new growth come from round there ... as one chap is doing that, the family start to pick over the fallen branches and recuperate the olives ... none of this rattling the trees with machines and gathering off the floor. We were amazed, but it seems they have been doing them for centuries like that!!
May is a bit late for our spanish style pruning as the trees will have put effort into flowering by then so have wasted their energy. Most healthy branches will produce olives, and last years new growth will produce this year too, but there may be too much new growth so a lot of that will have to be trimmed. I suggest you watch others around you and see how they do it, offer to help your friend with his to see how he does it, and take note as you drive round, the shape of the olive trees that have just been pruned - you can learn a lot just by observation. Then get on and do a major clearing up of your 4 trees. The big growers round here are well into pruning already ...
As to them being old trees - dont worry, they last for centuries given half a chance, and can survive really hard pruning if need be - but you can take it more gently while you get used to it. A lot of people do a four year cycle of seriously hard pruning one year, then just trimming excess growth for three years, then another hard prune - with your four trees you could take them in turn !
Almonds - As I understand it, almonds can have white flowers, or another variety can have pink flowers, depending on the stock they have been set from, but ALSO there are sweet almonds and bitter almonds. Our time in France in an almond growing area showed that some bitter almonds were always in the plantations as they help to pollinate the more fussy sweet almonds. Bitter almonds are not poisonous, and some folk actually liked to eat them as being "tasty" but they are normally used for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, not eaten - though some go to marzipan!! They are ready to harvest when the outer fuzzy skin starts to split and fall away - pick a couple, bash them open and taste, and then you will know if you have sweet or bitter - there is no mistaking the difference in taste! Usually ready about August time or late July.

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Re: Calling olive experts..

Postby Ricasso » Sat Feb 24, 2018 7:43 pm

Thanks Gasman (and everyone) for all this info. I think I'll get to work on the olives asap to give them a good chance this year. So the pink bloomed almonds can be sweet or bitter and neither are likely to poison me either way.. that's good to hear.
I only have 4 olive trees and about 5 almonds but it would be nice for them to be productive.
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Re: Calling olive experts..

Postby Gasman » Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:27 pm

:thumbup: :thumbup: :clap:
Get chopping lad !! :clap: :D
Happily almonds dont usually need pruning, just tidy up any dead bits and things going the wrong way otherwise leave them to it ... :angel:


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