Introduction: Pickles Upgrade - It's All About (essential) Oil
Do you remember your last holidays in a mediterran country, like Italy or Greece? Do you remember also the tasty pickled olives they served in your favourite restaurant? Sooo yummy, weren't they? Well, holidays are always too short...
Back home you just bought pickled olives at your local grocery store to get a bit of holiday feeling back, took them home, tasted them, and yes, they tasted like... errrm... and the holiday feelings immediately went away...
So yes, you should book your next holidays right now - but until then, you can pass time by upgrading the standard-okay-boring-tasting-cheap'o-olives to another level.
But why do the olives taste so different? Well, everything tastes better on holidays (also known as the "magic ingredient") - the rest is (primarily) due to essential oils from herbs and spices. So, we just need to transfer all these magic essential oils into our olives.
Step 1: Required Ingredients
- 1 Glass of pickled standard-okay-boring-tasting-cheap'o-olives in brine
- Extra vergine olive oil
- Sunflower oil
- 1 tbsp vinegar, preferably Aceto Balsamico di modena
- Fresh garlic
- Fresh or dried herbs, e.g. parsley, basil, chives, thyme, sage, rosemary...
- Not necessary, but if desired, some fresh soft cheese like Feta or similar
- 1 fresh lemon (we just need some lemon peel, not the juice)
Step 2: Required Tools
- A bowl
- A tablespoon
- A knife and a cutting board
- A funnel with large opening if available
- A strainer
Step 3: Cut'em All
Take a knife or scissors and cut all soft herbs and the garlic into small pieces. I personally don't cut the "harder" herbs like rosemary or sage into small pieces but leave them intact (so you don't need to eat those stiffy parts). The essential oils - in other words the taste of the herbs - will be regardless transferred by the olive and sunflower oil added at a later step.
Carefully remove one or two pieces of lemon peel. The peel - not the pulp - contains the essential oils which give your food the typical "lemon taste"
Put the herbs, lemon peel and garlic in the bowl.
Step 4: Mix It
Pour the olives from the jar into a strainer and let the brine drip off. Then, add the dripped off olives and the cutted cheese to the bowl. Now add one tablespoon of vinegar (preferably a sweet one like Aceto balsamico di Modena - or use some other vinegar and add a small amount of sugar) to the bowl. Then add a few tablespoons of each olive oil and sunflower oil to the bowl.
Why do we use both olive oil and sunflower oil? We're using olive oil due to the "nutty" taste compared to the neutral taste of sunflower oil. But why not just use pure olive oil? Yes you can, but pure olive oil tends to get flaky or even hard when stored in the fridge (and olive oil costs much more than sunflower oil). So we'll mix two oils to get a nice taste but still keep the oil fluid and clear while stored in the fridge.
Now, it's time to carefully mix the ingredients a bit. Take care to not break the crumbly cheese bites apart.
Step 5: Back to the Jar
Put the mixed ingredients from the bowl back to the jar. Use a funnel with wide opening, if available. Carefully stuff the cheese bites and olives a bit or slightly shake the jar (preferrable with closed lid to reduce the potential mess) to slough the ingredients a bit. Add as much of olives and cheese bites as possible.
Finally, fill up the stuffed jar with sunflower and olive oil. Important: make sure that all olives and cheese bites are covered with oil. Otherwise, the olives or cheese bites might get bad when stored for a longer period.
Seal the jar with the lid and keep it stored in a dark and cool place (I'd use a fridge) for at least two days. These days are required to extract the essential oils from the spices and transfer them into olives and cheese bites.
The oil further acts as a preservation by preventing contact of air with the ingredients. So, aerobic (no, nothing about gym) organisms (bacteria, yeast) have no chance to grow. Thus, the preparation can easily be stored for at least three weeks in a fridge without degradation.