The Manzanilla olives that we harvested in March are at last ready for eating. We look with envy at our neighbouring fruit farms that harvest their crop and sell it immediately whilst we have to wait for eight months before we can start to sell our produce. Also we have the added complication in that if we don’t get the processing and fermentation process exactly right we end up either with foul tasting olives or olives that are too soft and squashy and that we cannot take to market.
Fortunately the ‘pickling’ process appeals to Walter’s fastidious side and for the last eight months he has religiously checked on his ‘babies’ in the olive store. Armed with his refractometer (to test the salinity of the pickling brine) and his ‘ph’ sticks (to test the acidity/alkalinity) he has nurtured them through their transformation from bitter tasting inedible ‘drupes’ (single stone fleshy fruit) into remarkably tasty processed green table olives. Although there have been times when even he thought that the lactic acid
fermentation process was out of control.
So now at last we are ready to allow our guests to sample the Manzanillas both in the whole form and as olive paste – we are still trying to find the correct term to describe our olive paste – a ‘blitzed mix of stone-less olives, garlic, lemon and herbs’ – others use the term ‘tapenade’ which should really contain anchovies and capers, or ‘pesto’ which should contain pine nuts and parmesan – but we would like the flavour of our Manzanillas to ‘speak’ for itself. Our brains are being tested but hopefully we will eventually improve upon Manzanilla Mash which appears to be the current favourite.
Our Mission olives that were harvested in April are almost ready, these black olives are still a little bitter but we think that within a few weeks will be ready for the tasting – and ‘mashing’.