Olive Making (Salt Cured) by Cynthia Briscoe

Olive Making (Salt Cured)

by Cynthia Briscoe

     Oroville, CA, where I live,  claims fame as the home of the canned olive. When a woman named Mrs. Ehmann found herself widowed and penniless, she got busy and invented the canned olive, today commonly fitted as a joke by kids over their digits at the holiday table. The Mediterranean climate here in Oroville is perfectly suited to the growth of this illustrious fruit. There is even a town named Palermo nearby since it reminded the settlers of the Italian town.

Olive trees abound here, as well as abandoned orchards that gradually succumb to housing projects and apartment complexes. Some survive the dozer and provide landscaping shade in schoolyards, parks, and around homes, as they require no water during the blazing hot summers. For most folks today, the fruits are a nuisance, staining their patios and sidewalks, but for me, they are a glorious treasure longing to be acknowledged and touched by human hands.

The late fall and winter months provide an abundance of ripe olives. The colors are a rich and vibrant deep purple, almost black. There may be a few in the mix that are maroon in color. Throw in a few olive leaves and the palette of color will make your heart sing. Combine the olive picking with a picnic, children, grandchildren or a dear companion, and the flavor of your home cured olives will be even more delicious.

Salt cured olives are so incredibly simple to make that it causes one to wonder why more people don’t, especially when you view the price tag on naturally cured olives. Perhaps folks just accept Mrs. Ehmann’s version of the dark, canned olive as the only way to have an olive. Probably they have not yet tasted the rich, robust, complex flavor of salt cured olives, or experienced the contrast of cool earth seeping through the soles of your shoes, balanced by the warm sun knitting rays into the back of your sweater…or a blue sky floating cloud patterns above your head whenever you look up to reach a higher branch heavy with olives. Mix that with the sounds of children, flushing wings, birdsong and the rubbery firm sound of olives bouncing into a bucket after picking: authentically life-delicious!

Recipe for Salt Cured Black Olives

 2 parts olives

1 part salt

Pick ripe olives from the tree. Resist the temptation to collect fallen olives from the ground as those are more susceptible to spoilage.

Sort through the olives and pick out any remaining stems and discard any olives that show signs of insect wounding.

Weigh the olives and write down the weight.

-Take a small sharp knife and cut a slit in each olive. Place them in a bowl large enough for washing the olives. (The slit helps to leech the bitterness from the olives.)

-Cover the olives with water. Pour off any floating debris, rinse again and drain.

Weigh out the salt. You need an amount of salt that is ½ the weight of the olives. If you are doing a small amount of olives, it may be affordable to use your expensive natural sea salt. If processing a larger volume of olives, use pickling salt that has no additives or you can use inexpensive rock salt (we use this for salt baths). This unprocessed solar dried salt can be purchased at home improvement stores for $5-$6 per 35 lb. bag. You can use it in the rock form, but I like to put in in the blender and grind it up as it dissolves better during pickling.

Mix the olives and salt together.

Slip the olives into a cotton bag or old pillowcase.

Tie off the bag and hang either outside or inside. I have some hooks in the ceiling of my front porch or you can hang them inside a garage or other protected area. Keep in mind that the salt will pull dark liquid from the olives that can stain cement or walls. Be sure to put a bucket beneath the olives to catch this liquid. If you should hang the bag from a tree, keep in mind that the dark liquid is also very salty, which will kill plants. Some people say rain does not harm the olives, but if I hang them outside exposed to the elements, I make a rain jacket for them by cutting a corner from a plastic bag and slipping the rope through this small hole.

Cure for 4 to 6 weeks. Once or twice per week, mix the olives. Simply lift up on the bottom of the bag and gently mix by rolling the olives around inside the bag. After a month or so, taste the olives

When the flavor is to your liking, the olives are done. These olives will naturally have more of a bitter flavor, but the bitterness lessens with curing time.

Remove the olives from the bag and quickly rinse off excess salt. Drain well. Perhaps spreading out in a single layer may be a good idea if you are storing them long term.

-These olives are delicious to me just like this, but usually I dress them with herbs and olive oil, and store them in jars in a cool place for 3-6 months. They will keep a year or longer in the fridge.

– To dress the olives toss with enough organic olive oil to coat them. Fresh or dried herbs may be added such as rosemary, thyme, or oregano. I found that fresh garlic tends to grow mold, so if you like garlic add it to a smaller amount of olives and store in the refrigerator.

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Raspberry Sorbet with Heart-Shaped Chocolate Chip Cookies


Raspberry Sorbet & Heart-Shaped Chocolate Chip Cookiess

SORBET INGREDIENTS

3 cups frozen raspberries
a small pinch of lemon zest
1 1/2 cups brown rice syrup (or 1 cup amber agave syrup)
1/2 cup water
(if using the 1 cup of agave, use 1 cup water)

INSTRUCTIONS

(Prepare your ice cream maker in advance.)

  1. Combine rice syrup (or agave), and water in saucepan over medium heat. Cook over medium heat until flavors blend – about 10 minutes.
  2. Strain and set aside to cool slightly

    You want it to be warm, but not boiling.

  3. When cooled, combine your liquid and frozen raspberries in a blender or food processor.
  4. Pulse until the mixture is very smooth.
  5. Strain the raspberry mixture through a fine mesh strainer to get out all seeds and remaining solids. This will take a little effort. It helps to push mixture through with a rubber spatula.
  6. Mixture should be cool from the frozen raspberries, but if it is warm, put in the the refrigerator to cool for an hour.
  7. Once the mixture is cooled, start up the ice cream maker and add in the mixture with the pinch of lemon zest.
  8. Once your sorbet becomes the consistency of soft serve, you’re done.
  9. Serve immediately, or freeze overnight in an airtight container for a more solid sorbet.

Heart-Shaped Chocolate Chip Cookies

There are dozens of vegan cookie recipes on the internet, including chocolate chip ones. Just shape each into a heart before baking.

Here is one of our chocolate chip cookie favorites, with a shout out of thanks to Christina Pirello….


The Heart Is More Than Just A Symbol of Love by David Briscoe


The Heart Is More Than Just A Symbol of Love

by David Briscoe

There’s a reason the heart is a symbol for love. It’s not just a Valentine’s Day graphic for commercial purposes. The heart is in fact the physiological base of love

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Cardiology studies for years have shown that those who are most natural in their expression and reception of love have the healthiest hearts. And we use many phrases such as “warm heart, ” “open heart, ” “expansive heart, ” and “deep heart,” for a reason. They are not just figures of speech.

The physical heart is the organ that circulates blood and warmth to all cells, tissue and organs of the body. To be a “warm-hearted” person actually requires that the physical heart and circulation be unobstructed and free-flowing. When we say someone is “cold-hearted” we are expressing an observation of his or her behavior, but if we were to examine such a person, we would most likely also find that they are actually colder on the surface of their body, natural warm circulation to the surface having been blocked by long-standing internal muscular contractions that prevent blood from fully reaching the skin. These contractions are the result of life experience that has required the person to withdraw away from the external life and go inward. This causes a concurrent withdrawal of energy and feeling from the surface of the body toward his or her core, as a means of self-protection. The Latin word for heart is “cor.” To withdraw feeling from the surface of the body back toward the core, requires a physiological withdrawal of energy, including blood circulation.

Many people today experience heart problems, not only because of unhealthy diet, but also because life has brought them trauma, abuse, betrayal, alienation, and isolation. If you would like to read more about the role of the heart in happy living please read, Love, Sex and Your Heart by Alexander Lowen, MD.

On a daily basis there are many ways to open the heart. For example, finding ways to give to others in our local community can be a good place to start. One such way of giving would be to sign up to be a reading or math tutor at your local library. Or give some time to a local school or a local food pantry. Your giving doesn’t have to wait for a global catastrophe far away, there are people who need you right where you live. The world right where you are is waiting for your heart to open to it. Join me in finding ways to let our hearts flow openly to the world around us, and find our heart becoming far healthier than good food alone can make it. This is my wish for us all on this Valentine’s Day weekend 2016.