Andalusia, Spain's Olive Region
Spain is the largest
producer of olive oil in Europe. Much of Andalusia
is planted with olive trees that stand like soldiers
on parade and seem to stretch endlessly over the
hillsides. 100km north of Malaga, near Prigo de
Cordoba, there are seven motorhome service areas, Aires.
These area service para autocaravanas are located in the heart of this fascinating
and sometimes breathtaking olive growing region.
Motorhome and campervans can park overnight for free at these Aires.
Olives are harvested from November to January and
this is an ideal time to visit the groves in a motorhome or campervan, as the weather is warmer than the UK and you can observe the pickers on the hillsides,
processing plants sorting, weighing and
processing the freshly picked olives.
Olive trees are often used in ornamental planting
schemes meaning, the olives are left to ripen and
fall. Unfortunately, eating olives off the tree
will leave a bitter taste in your mouth, to make
them delicious they need to be processed or 'cured'.
Green fruit ripen and turn black, but there are
many olive varieties each with their own taste.
the recipe opposite and you'll enjoy the fruits
of your labour.
Olive preparation: Step 1:
Making them edible a)
Wash your fresh black or green
olives, they must be firm and un-bruised. b)
Slit black olives along their
length with a knife. Green olives do not need slitting
but should be slightly crushed with a mallet. c)
Put the olives in a glass jar
allowing any juice to drain off. d)
Prepare enough brine for the
first 12 hour soak. Mix 10 parts cold water to 1
part salt (preferably pickling salt or good quality
salt, but not sodium reduced salt). e)
Soak the olives in brine for
at least 3 days, changing the brine every 12 hours.
Weigh the olives down during the soak to ensure
they are all submersed. f)
Taste the olives, if they are
too bitter continue to soak them. After their soak,
drain them and then rinse in fresh water. g)
Optional drying stage: Dry with
kitchen paper and place the olives on an open tray
in a fridge overnight. It is important that the
fridge is free of smells that could taint the olives.
Flavouring the olives
Ingredients: 4 cloves of garlic, mixed dried herbs,
red/white wine vinegar, salt, water. a)
Thoroughly crush 4 cloves of
garlic along with dried herbs to taste. Add them
to a clean glass jar then fill the jar with your
prepared olives as above. b)
Make up a liquid of roughly
80 per cent water, 15 per cent wine vinegar and
5 per cent salt. First dissolve the salt in the
wine vinegar (red for black olives and white for
green), then add the water. c)
Pour this liquid into the glass
jar covering the olives, fit lid to jar then store
in a fridge for 10 days. For best results weigh
the olives down so submersed or top with a 1cm layer
of olive oil. d)
Taste the olives in 10 days
time. Bitterness should now be minimal. Salinity
and acidity can be adjusted at this point. Simply
drain the liquid and replace with a liquid of your
own ratios but remember both the salt and vinegar
act as preservatives. Step 3:
Enjoying your olives
Ingredients: olive oil, garlic, herbs (basil, oregano,
rosemary), lemon juice, lemon rind, orange rind. a)
Once the olives have reached
the required taste in step two they are ready to
consume. Remove a portion from the jar and dress
with olive oil and some of the suggested flavours
If this is all too much, or
your olives have spoiled, open some olives you have
bought from a shop, dress and devour. WARNING:
If at any time olives
become mouldy or soft or bad smelling DO NOT EAT.