The house I live in has a pretty big backyard, complete with fruiting trees – two lemon, two olive, a mandarin, a fig and an orange. Due to neglect, a some of these trees don't do so well and the harvest is usually pretty dismal, but this year one olive tree has done particularly well (the other bore no fruit). I had emailed a cafe asking if they wanted them but that would've required me lugging a lot of olives to the next suburb which I wasn't prepared to do. What I was prepared to do was google how to pickle olives myself and bring a couple of friends around to help.
First things first, I had to prepare lunch. I made a focaccia with dried oregano (from my herb patch).
The recipe I use is pretty foolproof. I usually halve the recipe because 7 cups of flour would make an insane amount of bread. You can add anything you want in it – I've added olives and herbs before, but you could easily add seeds or cheese even.
Jane and Lucinda came so I put them to work. Our plan of attack was to pick as many as possible, throw out the bad ones then separate the raw olives from the ripe ones.
A good feed should always come after hard work. I put the focaccia dough in the oven, as well as some pumpkin. We put together a spread of cheese and tomato as well.
I'll be honest, after eating none of us really wanted to get back to work, but we were driven by the prospect of edible olives at the end of all of this. Once each olive has been sliced on either side all you need to do is put them in brine and wait for the magic to happen (the magic being the bitter juices leeching out and the salt curing the flesh).
You could leave the olives to brine and put them in jars plain, but we're not about that life. We picked oregano and chillies from my patch to dry so we can flavour the jars next week.