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In many parts of the Middle East, a herb by the name of ‘Faijan’ (Rue) is added to black olives (in the pickling jar, and green and fresh to the serving bowl) and this gives them a special flavour. Alas, this herb is not yet found in North American stores – but is available in garden centres; it is a vigorous perrenial plant and quite easy to grow in one’s herb garden.  Simply snip the tender stems, pluck the leaves and mix them in with the olives; as many or as few as you like!

2 kg (5 pounds) black olives

375 mL (1 1/2 cups) pickling (coarse) salt

250 mL (1 cup) olive oil

a handful of rue leaves (optional)

2 L (8 cups) water

250 mL (1 cup) pickling (coarse) salt

Wash the olives. Dry well. Place in a large plastic bowl (a metal bowl will corrode from the salt). Sprinkle with 375 mL (1 1/2 cups) pickling salt. Set aside for 12 hours. Stir well. Stir once a day for 4 or 5 days. You will notice the colour of the olives turning purple. They are then ready for storage.

Pour the olive oil on the olives and rub gently and lovingly…yes, lovingly between the hands. Add the rue leaves, if desired or available to you. Fill the jars with the olives.

Measure 2 L (8 cups) of water into a bowl. Add remaining pickling salt and stir. Pour over the olives to cover. Close the lids and put away.

The olives may be eaten at this stage, although it is better to leave them for three or four weeks – this depends on your taste buds and how you like your olives.