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Where does one obtain lye?
Merlyn: Grocery stores usually have lye in the housekeeping and cleaning dept.

Merlyn's Recipe for Olive Curing

Method 1-  Rock salt: Place olives in a flat tray and cover with rock salt. Within a week the olives will begin to appear wrinkled and shriveled. Allow the salt curing process continue until the olives are about half size and still have a "rubbery" feel. When cured the olives will still have a slightly bitter taste and will be quite salty. Do occasional taste tests during the curing process.

 **Method 2- Lye: Lye is concentrated sodium hydroxide. DO NOT GET IT ON YOUR SKIN! Use rubber gloves. The lye neutralizes the bitter acids inside the olive and the time required to do that depends on concentration of the lye solution and temperature. Lye exposed to air quickly absorbs moisture from the air, gets sticky and then hard as a rock. When using lye remove the appropriate amount from the container and quickly replace the cap.

Use the ratio of 1 tbs. to a quart of water. Prepare enough solution to completely cover the olives to be cured. A gallon of olives will require about a half gallon of solution. When preparing the solution stir the mixture until all the lye granules are dissolved. During the curing process stir the batch at least 4x during the day, more often if possible. If using a jar just invert and shake to keep the solution well mixed with the olives. Jars nearly always leak so use your rubber gloves. Before you start cut into an olive and notice the whiteness of the flesh; as the lye penetrates the color changes to brown and when the color change reaches the pit the cure is complete. The cure will take a full day so you don't need to start cutting into the olives for six hours at least. If the cure is not complete by bedtime let the lye work overnite.

When the curing process is complete, pour off the lye solution and start to rinse out the lye. The more often you change the water the  faster you will get rid of the lye, usually takes 3 to 4 days. When the lye is washed out, add salt to taste, usually 4 tbs per gallon is about right. When you cure olives you need to experiment a little to get them just right. If the flesh adheres to the pit you could have left the cure continue a little longer, if the olives are soft and mushy the cure continued too long. Good luck!

 For 1 pint

  • Get rubber gloves to handle the jar of olives and lye
  • 1 Heaping tsp cover with water shake several times a DAY, X 24 HOURS
  • Check if ready by slicing into flesh, if still white not ready, should be brown to pit.
  • Then rinse for 3- 4 days
  • Add salt to taste probably 1.5 tsp soak for 2 days
  •  Then add salt tsp 1.5 x 2 day, taste.


crock o olives
shows a plate inside the jar with a bowel on top to keep olives submerged

More links to Olive Curing-