Another mystery solved! Having been struck with fermenting fever this summer (I canned, fermented, and cultured over 300 quarts of fruits and vegetables!), a few weeks ago I ordered a few cases of raw green olives from Chaffin Family Orchards. I shared the purchase with some friends, so I was left with two gallons of olives to cure and ferment.
Chaffin had a couple of links on their website. I chose two recipes, both pretty similar. Each of them called for cutting into each olive, then soaking them in plain water for a week, changing the water every 24 hours. (This lets the bitter oils escape, and starts the fermenting process.)
Then, again according to the recipes, I packed the olives into pint jars with a brine of salt water plus a little vinegar. I chose to just add a couple of cloves of garlic and no other flavoring. Each jar was topped with a layer of olive oil, then covered and set on a shelf to culture. (They look really pretty!)
Now the tricky part: one recipe says the olives are ready after two or three days. The other recipe says to let them sit for at least two months! So… what to do? (They look so tasty just sitting there…)
Fast forward to the WAPF conference… and just two tables away from us is the Chaffin Family Orchards display, with the Chaffin folks themselves in attendance! We had a nice chat about olives, and I discovered that the length of culturing time is entirely dependent on personal taste. Apparently they will get saltier and more flavorful as time goes on, which makes sense. But I think I will sample a few as soon as I get home, just to see how things are progressing!