Kalamata Olives From My Garden

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This Post Updated April 2017

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A large glass jar of Kalamata olives picked from the seven trees in our garden. As soon as the olives are picked they have to be soaked in clean water for 10 days; the water must be changed every day. The large jar is then filled with saline solution in which the olives will stand for 4 weeks. The plate holds olives ready to eat; they have been marinating in spiced olive oil for at least two weeks. Delicious!

A large glass jar of Kalamata olives picked from the seven trees in our garden. As soon as the olives are picked they have to be soaked in clean water for 10 days; the water must be changed every day. The large jar is then filled with saline solution in which the olives will stand for 4 weeks. The plate holds olives ready to eat; they have been marinating in finest quality olive oil for at least two weeks. Delicious! They really need nothing else to preserve them, unlike green olives.

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Jack helps me to pack freshly picked olives into jars

Jack helps me to pack freshly picked olives into jars

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Ancient Syria (which then included Lebanon) was the first country to grow olives and to export olive oil in terracotta amphorae to the rest of the known world.  The ancient Greeks traded olive oil for corn and precious metals. During the long occupation of the islands by the Venetians, peasants were encouraged to plant olive trees and pay their taxes in oil.  It was the Romans who invented the screw press to extract the oil from olives. Odysseus once remarked that Greece  ‘is a rough land but a good nurse of men and I want no sweeter home’. The olive is of unique importance to Greece and Greek Legend has it that in the mighty contest between the goddess Athena and Poseidon, ruler of the seas, (who offered the horse) for the control of Attica, Athena’s gift to mankind was the olive tree. The gods chose the bountiful tree and Athena was honoured for all time by giving her name to the capital of Greece. The olive symbolises hope and fertility,  and seems to embody the spirit of a proud, generous and friendly people who have survived wars, invasions and earthquakes.

Paul and I have always loved olives and olive trees and all the houses we have lived in have either had olive trees in pots or  in the garden.  Apparently, growing an olive tree at your front door attracts  good luck and valued friends.  Our Melbourne garden has six grafted kalamata olive trees and this variety of table olives are at their best when fully ripe and shiny black. Being fully ripe, they only need washing and preserving in brine or dry salt.  When picked, immerse in cold water and change the water every day for ten days. Then make a brine solution of 250 grams of salt to 2.5 kgs of olives.  (Should be salty enough to allow a raw egg to float). Leave the olives in this solution for 3 – 4 weeks when they will then be ready to eat. Alternatively they can be pickled after soaking in the saline solution. Some olives are nicer when picked and eaten green and others when they are black.  All olives are green at first and turn black when fully ripe, changing through a beautiful spectrum of colours: rose, wine rose, brown, deep violet, deep chestnut, reddish black and violet black as in the case of the  Kalamata.  One of the main towns in the Peloponnese is Kalamata and is the name of the main olive variety now grown in Greece.

It takes on average five to eight years for olive trees to yield their first crop, depending on the variety and the condition of the trees.  It is on this sixth year, 2013, that the olives on our trees are ready to be harvested.

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1 comment
  1. Hi Anne,love this post for your description of the olives we have here. However, I am not too keen on olives myself but John and my two sons love them.

    Liked by 1 person

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