Local Heart, Global Soul

July 16, 2014

Greek Thomas’s Divine Family Recipe For Curing Olives…

Filed under: FOOD,GREECE,PHOTOGRAPHY,PLATANIA,Recipes — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are lots of advantages of having family who have become very familiar with a particular place over a long period of time.

Our in-laws have holidayed  in Platania for several decades and now own a small holiday home there.

Not only are they excellent friends with many of their neighbours, they have learned Greek and the whole village knows who they are, and many locals are also good friends.

One of their Greek friends is Thomas, the owner of the small local grocery shop, and I had instructions from my sister in law when I went there to let Thomas know that I was “family”.

The smile and friendly greeting that I was received with quickly got broader and I soon had recommendations of places to go, the best products to buy, and by the end of our stay,  his family recipe for curing olives. We visited Platania in the last week of October 2012. It was our children’s half-term school holiday but luckily for us, it was also the beginning of the olive harvest in Greece. Himself and I are olive lovers, Kiwi Daughter is slowly acquiring the taste  and mega fussy Little Mr, who knows, might discover the taste of many a gastronomic delight one day in the future.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Two days before we left Greece the olives started to arrive in the shop…  there are trees everywhere and naturally many local cure olives from their own gardens but there are also freshly picked olives for sale in the shops.

I tentatively asked the price thinking they would be expensive but got a very pleasant surprise when I found out that 1 kilogram of olives costs only one Euro.

This was the moment I started ruing the fact that we had packed light for our budget airline flight and had squeezed everything into a small bag for the convenience of having only one bag and not two.

Fortunately my brother in law had bought some tools  for their renovation project from home and was planning to use them when he came back in the new year for a “work week”, so there was space in their luggage I could use.   I stocked up on five kilograms (approx 10 lb) of fresh olives for the princely sum of five Euros and with Thomas’s recipe ended up with the best souvenir I’ve ever bought in my life.

Tip: Thomas said you know your salt water mix is good if you take a raw egg (in shell) and float it in the water, if only 5mm of the shell sticks out of the water your salt solution is a good one. (the egg is only used to see how salty the water is, you don’t use it anywhere in the recipe)

Kiwidutch Tip:  Our In-laws cured the olives off their trees at the same time as I did mine. Both lots were edible around Christmas time and they couldn’t resist trying theirs: once they did, their entire stash of olives was gone by the time they rang in the New Year. Family Kiwidutch put our olives into jars and stashed them out of sight so we wouldn’t be tempted. We opened the first jars in April 2013 with extended family members present and the in-laws who had finished their olives, immediately conceded that we had hit the jackpot by leaving ours a few months more…the olives were soft and beyond delicious. Commercially bought olives taste nothing like these… so if you think commercial ones are good then you would find this recipe simply divine.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Greek Thomas’s Divine Family Olive Curing Recipe: 

– Take each olive and slice lengthwise three times.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

– cover with water at least 1 week and change water every two days.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

– after 1-2 weeks tip the most recent water out and for every litre of water you put in new, add 80g salt. Soak olives in this mixture 1 week.

*****     *****     *****

(Kiwi’s note: Imperial measurement conversion:  80 grams = 2.8 ounces)

*****     *****     *****

(Kiwi’s Note No.2 I have been requested to also provide these measurements in Cups, so the interwebs conversion sites tell me that 80 grams = 0.338 of a Cup of salt.

I have no clue about anything in Imperial measurements so I will have to believe that this makes sense to the non-metric folks reading this.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

– after 1 week rinse off the salt water, and make the following mixture: 50-70 ml olive oil + 150g vinegar + 80 grams salt for very litre of water used(the water should cover the olives). Keep the olives in this new mixture for two weeks.

*****     *****     *****

(Kiwi’s note: Imperial measurement conversion:   50-70ml =  1.69 – 2.36 US fluid ounces olive oil // 150 ml = 5.072 US fluid ounces vinegar   // 80 grams = 2.8 ounces salt)

*****     *****     *****

(Kiwi’s note No.2  I have had a request to please provide the measurements in Cups, which as I explained in the comments wasn’t easy, or looks easy to measure in the end either, but just in case someone really wants to know what I found out, here goes:

50 -70 millilitres of olive oil converts to: 0.175 – 0.246 of a Cup of olive oil // 150 millilitres of vinegar converts to: 0.527 of a Cup of vinegar // 80 grams of salt converts to 0.338 of a Cup of salt.

I also learned today in 2019 that there is also a difference between the sizes of a USA Cup, Canadian Cup and a Metric Cup

so 80 grams of salt converts to = 0.338140225589192 USA Cup   //  0.32 Metric Cup  // 0.351950797278544 Canadian Cup.  This made my head spin and makes me doubly, triply, quadruply thankful that I grew up with Metric, where everything is in units of 10, 100, 1000 etc.

Good Luck, however you choose to measure it!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In “theory” the olives are ready to eat at this point BUT if you keep the olives in a cool dark place the flavour will improve with age.

If you want to flavour your olives with garlic etc. then add the garlic into this mix. You can also put the mix into glass jars after the two weeks so that you can age them, and the olive oil in the mix should float to the top and seal the jar.


(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)


Thank you to Kathy who’s question reminded me of this: ONE note That I forgot to add: After opening a jar when your olives are ready you then keep these in the fridge: the cold will make the oil go almost solid in the jar. that’s perfectly ok.

Just make sure you put the jar out at room temp for an hour or so before you want to use them, the oil will liquefy and the re-solidify again if you return it to the fridge. Or just use a teaspoon to scoop out olives and rinse off the semi-solid oil if you are nibbling just a few from the fridge.

(Yet another Kiwi’s Note: Please read the Comments section of this post, you will find additional Question and Answer information that might really help your olives to reach perfection. (and it was easier to leave the info. below than to try and mess up the recipe/photograph sequence here). Cheers!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)



  1. Do you use the olive oil mixture the olives have soaked in for the two weeks when you put them into glass jars?

    Comment by Kathy Bron — November 8, 2018 @ 6:55 pm | Reply

  2. Kathy,
    Yes indeed. The olive oil layer may be a little thin (only if you have really a lot of olives) after you transfer the olives and olive oil mixture to the jars. If that’s the case you can add a tiny bit extra oil to each jar to create *just* enough to cover the top. A millimeter is enough, you are just keeping any last bit of air out. The air will already have been kept out whilst the water and olives were in the bucket and you have created a brine so with both it’s safe. DO try and leave these for the extra months after putting into jars.. these are soooo much better than ‘shop bought”.

    ONE note That I forgot to add: after opening a jar later you keep these in the fridge: the cold will make the oil almost solid in the jar. that’s perfectly ok. Just make sure you put the jar out at room temp for an hour or so before you want to use them, the oil will liquify and the re-solidify again if you return it to the fridge. Or just use a teaspoon to scoop out olives and rinse off the semi-solid oil if you are nibbling just a few from the fridge 🙂

    In fact this is probably something I should have mentioned in my main post, so I’ll add it there now just in case someone who wants to make this recipe looks at the main post and not the comment section. Your question was really helpful for me to remember this, (I thought it would be obvious but on second thoughts it may not be) . (Edited to add) I also forgot to add in my reply here that I would love to hear back (around April 2019-ish) about what you think of the final result. Here is to amazing olives! Thanks Kathy!

    Comment by kiwidutch — November 8, 2018 @ 7:54 pm | Reply

  3. Hi,
    Your instructions to cure my own olives inspired me to do it myself this year. They have been in the water for a week now. Do I leave them until the bitterness is completely gone or can they be still a bit bitter?

    Comment by Nancy — November 18, 2018 @ 7:26 am | Reply

    • Hi Nancy,
      Wonderful that you are making this recipe! eek, one week is way too soon, these will not be in any way edible until the end of the recipe (between 4-5 weeks depending on if you choose to do the first soaking stage for one week or two.)

      After THAT has all been done I strongly, hugely, definitely, absolutely recommend that you then leave your olives in their jars for at least another four months. The difference between leaving them and not is; “Seriously Delicious v’s Divine”.
      I would love to hear (around April 2019) what you think of the results!

      Comment by kiwidutch — November 18, 2018 @ 10:14 am | Reply

  4. My olive oil molded. Toss or are they okay?

    Comment by Anette Eckman — March 10, 2019 @ 1:09 am | Reply

    • Anette,
      I am so sorry to hear this.
      I didn’t know the answer to this because I’ve never had this happen before so I asked my in-laws who have more experience than I do.

      They said it happened just one time to them: and it’s to do with the olives. Sometimes some of the olives have black spots on them, big enough to see with the naked eye and they might not look like much at first, but any olives with this need to be discarded, otherwise they cause this mold problem.

      I didn’t know this myself until now so I’m sorry that I didn’t have this information in my recipe. I asked if the rest are still viable and the answer was “probably safer not”.

      My in-laws have only had this problem once in all the years/decades they have cured their own olives and they said the cause has to be with the olives and not the curing process. My brother in law said the olives may still be ok for oil, but personally if I were you I wouldn’t take the risk. I have a mold allergy so it goes without saying that if this happened to me I’d have to ditch mine.

      I will now know this too for the next time I do mine, so I have learned something now too. I’m so sorry for the bad news and that this happened on your first time trying this recipe because in a good batch these olives outshine normal botted ones 1000%.

      Comment by kiwidutch — March 11, 2019 @ 8:15 pm | Reply

  5. Hi excited to see your recipe! Can you please send me measurements in cups? Not familiar with the ones posted my first time… thank you

    Comment by Letty — October 17, 2019 @ 6:15 pm | Reply

    • Dear Letty,

      Welcome to my Blog! I looked up a measurement converter and have put each of the measurements into imperial in the text of this post.

      Cup conversions were really problematic, most converters didn’t have a Mililitres to Cup conversion so I did my best and hunted around to find one for you.
      For example 50 -70 millilitres of vinegar converts to: 0.175 – 0.246 of a Cup of vinegar, which seems to me to be a really difficult measurement, so I converted it into US fluid ounces instead, which is a USA standard measurement so that must surely be easier for you to measure.

      Even though the measurements looked strange to me, I also included the Cup measurements that I found into the text of my post so that you can use that if that’s easier, Yes? I hope that this helps you to make this fabulous recipe!

      Comment by kiwidutch — October 18, 2019 @ 5:08 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: