How To Dry Cure Olives In 3 Weeks

Once upon a time I lived in Adelaide where olive trees grow like weeds. Every winter we’d go foraging and preserve a good stash for eating. One year the very awesome Annemarie Brookman from the Food Forest taught me how to dry cure olives and I’ve never looked back. It’s infinitely easier and just as tasty as pickling, in short it’s life changing – here’s how we do it.

You’ll need

  • Salt: All recipes we’ve ever seen specify using non-iodized salt, we use coarse rock salt – but I don’t think it actually matters.
  • Olives: Only use black, fully ripe olives for this method. For 10kg of olives, you’ll need approximately 5kg of salt.
  • A bucket: To put the olives and salt in. We use 10 or 20 litre “food grade” buckets.


Step 1

Pick your olives! Choose only the blackest and leave the green ones on the tree to ripen or use them for pickling. Give them a good wash in fresh water to get any dirt/bird poo off them.

Step 2

Get comfy as this step takes a while. You need to break the flesh of each and every olive so it can absorb the salt. If you don’t do this step then it will not work and you’ll cry. Most people recommend using a knife to put a slice in each olive, however we use a fork and prick each olive a few times. This is soooo much quicker than using a knife, plus you can watch a movie at the same time without fear of stabbing yourself.

FYI – your fingers will turn a black/purple colour from the olive juices which will take a few days to fade.

IMG_6266A pricked olive!

Step 3

Once all your olives are nicely punctured, pack them in a jar or bucket with salt. We add the olives gradually, mixing in the salt as we go to ensure it’s spread evenly. We then put a thicker layer on top knowing that it will sink down with gravity.

Once you’ve done this, either pop a lid on top or some cheesecloth to keep the bugs out and leave it to start doing its thing


Step 4

Check on your olives every few days, they should be literally swimming in their own liquid within one week as seen below. This is a good sign. Strain the liquid off and keep going for another two’ish weeks.


IMG_6278The excess liquid we strained off our olives after one week in salt. 

Even after only one week you’ll see the olives have shrivelled up considerably, if you want to, you can stat taste testing them now – just wash one in fresh water and taste away to see how they’re evolving.


Step 5

Once the liquid has been strained off, make sure the original salt is mixed in evenly and let it continue to do its thing. Some people add in fresh salt at this stage if some of the salt was lost in the straining process.


Step 6

After three -four weeks your olives should be ready. To test, wash some in fresh water and taste them. Once you’re happy with the taste, rinse the whole lot in fresh water. From here you can either let them dry on some cloth towels and store in a jar or, put them in jars of olive oil with rosemary and garlic – the choice is yours. They’ll taste awesome either way.


What finished dry cured olives look like. Image from here

That’s it folks, you’ll never be scared of preserving olives again!

21 Responses to “How To Dry Cure Olives In 3 Weeks”

  1. Jess

    Hey Hannah, great read, thanks. I’ve pickled olives before but haven’t tried this method.. Is there anything useful that you do with the strained off water and salt?

    • Katkinkate

      You could evaporate the water out of it and set it aside for the next batch of olives (or sauerkraut or other salted pickle dishes)?

  2. Shelley

    Thank you for a great step-by-step guide on how to cure/dry olives in salt – very helpful! You should consider doing youtube videos also.

  3. Katja

    Thanks for this recipe! I’m going to have so many olives in a month or two, so this will be great. Could you please tell me how long you can store them for? Cheers

      • sonj

        Hi Hannah. Do you add any olive oil to stop the mould? Also wondering if you store in the fridge or pantry. I have so many of them and it’ll take us a very long time to get through them. Cheers, Sonia

  4. Diane

    We do a similar dry -cure here in Portugal, but the olives and salt are put into a pillowcase and hung in a tree. Give them a bit of a shake each time we pass by for the first couple of weeks to mix up the olives a bit, and 3 – 4 weeks later they are ready. No need to drain off the liquid as it seeps through the pillowcase. Super easy and delicious.

    • sonj

      Hi Diane, I have the same question for you that I asked of Hannah…
      Do you add any olive oil to stop the mould? Also wondering if you store in the fridge or pantry. I have so many of them and it’ll take us a very long time to get through them. Cheers, Sonia

      • Hannah Moloney

        Hi Sonia, we don’t add any olive oil. When we’ve had buckets and buckets of them, we just make sure they’re packed in with salt to preserve them and stop any mould. Cheers 🙂

  5. Gerlinde Greig

    I’m currently drying some now. Do you have recipes to flavour them at the end please?

    • Hannah Moloney

      We don’t bother flavouring them – instead just keep them in dry salt and add them to dishes as needed. Works for us :-).

  6. Josie

    I do this but you don’t need to prick the skin at all….the salt draws out the water naturally, by osmosis. Easy peasy!

  7. Felice Miles

    I tried a batch, masses grow wild in my suburb, and hung them in a ham bag. Just shook them up everytime I walked past. They got rained on one or twice but it didn’t seem to matter. I must say I was very nervous about tasting one but it was the most delicious creamy tasting olive I had ever tasted. Salty but so addictive!


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