How to Preserve Olives - Easily! With Step-by-step Directions, Photos, Ingredients, Recipe and Costs

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Yield: 10 pounds

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Preparing,preserving and even canning your own olives is not commonly down at home, but it certainly is possible with the correct equipment. There are many styles of prepared olives and many methods to preserve olives.

Olive Styles: Water Cured, Brine-cured,Dry Salt Cured, Lye-cured and Lye-cured/fermented.

Preservation methods: Brine, refrigeration/cool basement, freezing, drying, canning

The only style that is allowed with home canning is Lye cured and lye-cured/fermented, along with pressure canning.  There is no safe method to water bath can olives. Of course, if you want to simply store the olives in the refrigerator , you may use any style.

The simplest method is water-cured Kalamata-style olives stored in a cool, dark place or in the refrigerator, so we will start with that, on this page. If you want to make Lye-cured or Lye-cured & fermented olives and pressure can them for room temperature shelf storage, see this page.

Water-cured Kalamata Style Olives


  • Mature, ripe olives - This recipe assumes you have 10 lbs, but you can scale it up or down as you need
  • Pickling salt - 1 pound (about 1.5 cups)
  • Red wine vinegar - 1 quart, 5% strength
  • Olive oil - approximately 1 quart


  • Air-tight containers (glass or food grade plastic)
  • Large pot for mixing brine

Directions - Step by Step

Step  1 - Sort and clean

Remove any bruised olives, then simply rinse the olives in clean water to remove any dirt.

Step  2 - Slice each olive

Yes, I hate to tell you this, but  since olives contain a bitter compound called oleuropein, each olive must be sliced, split or cut open so this bitter substance can leach out in the brining process. So, with a knife make 2 cuts in each olive (lengthwise), about 1/8 inch into the olive.

Step 3 - Soak the olives in water

Put the olives in the glass or food grade plastic containerand fill with cool, clean water, The olives must be submerged, so you will need to weigh them down (a plastic cutting board works well). Close the container and leave them for 24 hours on the room temperature counter.

Step 4 - Drain and refill for the next 10 to 18 days

Yes, each day for a total of up to 18 days, you will drain the water and refill the container with fresh cool water, and ensure the olives are submerged again, and cover. The longer you soak the olives, the less bitter they will be.  I find 16 days works pretty well for my taste, but this is, of course, subjective.

Step 5 - Prepare the brine

Mix 1 lb of pickling salt 1 gallon of cool water and 1 quart of red wine vinegar in a large container. 

Step 6 - Darin the olives (for the last time) and cover with brine

Drain the olives and discard that ware.  In that same container, now pour the brine solution, and without weighing them down, add enough olive oil to form a layer that is about 1/4 inch deep , floating on top of the brine.  I can't tell you how much to use, other then the thickness of the layer, because that depends on the shape and size of your container!

Step 7 -Cover the container and Marinate / store at 60 F to 80 F

Now the olives need to age to develop their flavor.  This is down at room temperature (60 to 80F; / 16 to 27 C). Seal the container and let them sit (out of any direct sun, and away from children and pets) for 1 month.

Step 8 - Store and eat!

Olives prepared this way can be stored either in the fridge or a cool, dark, place (obviously sealed and safe from pests, vermin, pets, etc.) like a cool 40 F to 70F basement.  They should last about a year, stored this way .




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