12 January 2018

Fri., Jan. 12, 2018

Marina Cap Monastir
Monastir, Tunisia

I have enjoyed attempting to make from the raw, what would be processed food at home.  It seems to be part of what living on a boat means - simplicity, environmentally friendliness and self reliance.  I haven't canned yet - and maybe never will, I have inherited my mother's fear of pressure cookers.  But I have had some success with yogurt, which assuages my horror of multiple, tiny plastic containers we would otherwise toss.

In Tunisia we are surrounded by olive trees - in neighbourhood streets, in parks and for miles and miles and miles in the countryside, much further than the eye can see.  Since November, we have watched olives being harvested.  Olives for oil is raked off the trees with big wooden rakes onto a blanket which surrounds the tree.  Olives for eating are hand picked to avoid bruising.  When we have passed a family or neighbours harvesting in the city, most often the women are picking while the men watch.

It is easy to buy olives of all kinds and colours ready to eat here but I thought I'd give brining my own a try.  I asked our Tunisian friends dad who owns one of the butcher booths in the local market where to buy raw olives and he kindly offered to pick some for me from his tree.  A few days later I was given a large grocery bag full of tiny olives.  Tiny seems to be the preferred olive here, unlike North American "bigger is better" philosophy.

First, Peter and I sorted bruised or marked olives (throw away) from ripe from green.  Most were tossed according to the directions I had found online.  One sorted jar held green, another ripe and another slit olives which reportedly lets the natural bitterness escape faster - my own little science experiment.  Olives were covered with water and stored in a dark cupboard.  I changed the water after ten days and then we left for three weeks - this did not follow directions.

When we got home there was a bit of mould on the top but after rinsing, they seemed fine.  Next up brining in salt water changed daily.  The bitterness has gradually lightened up.  The jar with the slit olives is now in salt and red vinegar water in the fridge ready to eat in a week.  The others are still too bitter.   In the next month or so, we hope to host an olive party.

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