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Middle Easterners appreciate their olives. Be they black olives or green, they make an appearance at almost every meal.  Families await the olive harvest season with anticipation, to pickle and store away their yearly supply of their preferred olive variety.

2 kg (5 pounds) green olives

6-8 stringy hot peppers (red or green)

2 lemons

250 mL (1 cup) olive oil

2 L (8 cups) water

250 mL (1 cup) pickling (coarse) salt

2-3 grape leaves (if available)

Place olives on a clean cloth and smash with a heavy object or hammer until they crack open; (be careful, they can splatter and stain). Place in a large bowl. Cover generously with water and set aside. Change the water twice a day for 3 days. This gets rid of strong bitter taste. Drain.

Break the hot peppers in half. Cut the lemons into wedges. Combine with olives. Drizzle with olive oil and rub well between the hands. Place in 2 large jars.

Measure 2 L (8 cups) of water into a large bowl. Add pickling salt and stir. Pour over the olives. Cover with the grape leaves. Close the lids and store in a cool place. The olives will be ready in a month.

Once opening a jar of olives, to preserve their optimal flavour it is best to store them in the refrigerator; this, especially if you’re not a big consumer of olives.

SLOW PICKLING METHOD

Slash each olive vertically with a knife or scissors in three or four places, then pickle immediately without the soaking and change of water stage. These will ripen in 5 to 7 months.

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