Olives in Barwon Heads

In early 2000’s many olive trees were planted in Barwon Heads. They were chosen as a quick growing screen plant that suited the conditions of the area. Some were planted on nature strips and others along fence lines. Most of these plants were not pruned traditionally. The result is that many of the trees are now very large and producing masses of olives.

The Barwon Heads Community Arts Garden has seven olives trees of various varieties. Four form an avenue to the garden room and three others were planted to protect the citrus grove from easterly winds. Originally they were let grow and became very tall, however over the past four years they have been pruned carefully, with the ongoing collection of fruit in mind. Mature olive trees do not produce much fruit and, what little there is, is too high to gather safely. This ABC Webpage has some pruning tips.

The garden’s olives trees are now reaching a stage where the shape is more traditional like those in Mediterranean countries. The fruit is harvested and preserved each year. The following is one tried and true method of preserving olives.

 Russell’s Method for Preserving Olives.

  • Pick olives as they are just turning black – not too ripe and soft.
  • Rinse.
  • Slit each olive lengthways along the skin trying to avoid cutting through to the pip.
  • Cover generously with water.
  • For the next 8 days, each day drain water and put fresh water in.
  • After 8 days, drain water.
  • Add 1/3 cup of salt to 1 litre of water. The water may need to be warmed to dissolve the salt. If so, let it cool completely before next step.
  • Put drained olives into the salt solution in an old ice cream container for example. Place a plate over the olives to press down on them. A plate is good because it does not react with the water. Do not cover the container with anything else.
  • Leave container in a cool dark place. Mould will probably grow over it.
  • After one month, drain off the water. Don’t be put off by the mould, it’s expected.
  • Place olives in cooled sterile glass bottles. Make a solution of 1/6 cup of salt to one litre of water. Again, let it cool completely before using it if you need to warm it to dissolve the salt. Also at this stage, you could add red wine vinegar of herbs or garlic.
  • Cover the olives with the solution then pour a sealing layer of olive oil over the top before putting the lid on.
  • Allow to mature for at least three months.