When it came time to prepare the olives for pickling I was really surprised at how much the girls enjoyed the process. I had thought they would have a quick go, lose interest and go back to playing a game or reading their books. Instead, they sat at the kitchen table, sorting olives and cutting a slit in each one ready for brining and salting. It was a big job and took a long time but they stuck with it, chatting away and telling each other stories, totally immersed in the process.
Miss Eleven even wanted to pound the pink himalayan rock salt in the mortar and pestle. I suggested we put it in the spice grinder but received an emphatic "No!" in response. She wanted to experience the whole process and do it herself, by hand. Now that's my daughter!
We had to have a break for dinner and after dinner they wanted to keep going and jar the olives. Even though it was late, I figured they were so into it that it would be a shame to send them to bed with the job only half done. I know I like having the satisfaction of finishing the task even though it doesn't always happen around here - I've become very good at interrupted crafting, cleaning and writing!
After Miss Eleven had a go at pounding the salt in the mortar and pestle she agreed we could whizz it in the grinder to speed things up. Rock salt is pretty tough! We divided the olives into two batches - black and green. We salted the black olives by layering them in a jar with alternating layers of salt. The green olives we put into a brine.
Making the brine was interesting. The recipe I found said add enough salt and an egg to a saucepan of water and heat gently to dissolve the salt. When the egg floats, the brine is ready. The recipe was vague enough that it allowed plenty of room for discovery, doubt and experimentation. I'm starting to really enjoy the more is less approach to recipes even though it's quite unsettling. It gives me a chance to experience doubt, embrace trust and learn for myself as much as I can from the process. It's a gift of learning to sit with uncomfortable emotions. Not easy to do but oh so revealing!
Miss Eleven is really excited by our olives and she wants to make a tapenade from them. When I suggested we buy olives from the market as ours were pretty small and we wouldn't get a lot of flesh from each I received another resounding "NO!" She wants to make tapenade from olives we forage and cure. And I have to say, I can't really argue with that.