What’s in Season: October – Olives

Olive trees are evergreen trees found in most Mediterranean countries. A very long time ago the olive trees grew all over Malta, they can be grown in all types of soil, as long as the soil is at least three meters deep. These trees need plenty of sunshine to produce olives. The olive tree is very tenacious and can live for up to 500 years.

The olive fruit is usually ripe by October. An olive tree usually bears fruit when it is at least 4 years old.


This is to eat as a starter or an aperitif.


The shortbread:

  • 200g of flour
  • 125g of half-salt butter

The filling:

  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 30cl of whipping cream
  • 1 bag of grated Parmesan cheese Parmigiano Reggiano (140g approximately)
  • 150g of Taggiasche olives pitted
  • 1 branch of rosemary or oregano


Prepare the tart by mixing the flour, softened butter and 5cl of water. Knead it and make a ball. Let it rest in the refrigerator.  Take out the mixture for one hour before lying down finely in a pie dish. Heat the oven to 200 degrees.

In a bowl, pour the cream and Parmesan cheese. Whisk and add all the eggs. Chop the rosemary or oregano and add it to the preparation. Pour into the molds. Spread the olives on the pie. Bake and lower the oven to 160 degrees. Cook for 20 to 25 min, until the tart is lightly browned.

To taste lukewarm.


If you have a large harvest of olives, why not try brining them ?

Brining olives is not as hard as you think. It is as simple as water and salt. You just need some patience because you need to wait until the process is completed.

Preserving olives in brine:


  • Place fresh black olives (harvested or bought) in a basket to prevent bruising
  • Remove any diseased or damaged fruit
  • Wash olives with clear water to remove dust and leaves

To make the brine:

  • Add 1kg salt to 10 liters of water (1:10) and mix to dissolve.
  • To test if it’s sufficiently salty, make a solution of 5%, 7% and 10% by adding 50g, 60g and 100g of salt to a liter water. Then add a raw egg and determine how much of the egg is visible above the surface of the water in each solution. Put the same egg in the olive brine to determine the salt concentration.  If it sinks, more salt should be added to the water.

To process olives:

  • To quicken fermentation, make a vertical cut in each olive with a sharp knife. Whole olives can be used, but will take longer to de-bitter and preserve
  • To prevent bruising of olives fill a bucket with a few litres of brine before adding the olives. For processing about 10-13kg of fresh olives, a 20-litre bucket will be sufficient
  • Add the rest of the olives to the bucket and cover with brine
  • Cover the bucket with a lid, but do not seal tight. This will allow fermentation gases to escape and prevent dust from gathering on the surface
  • Keep the olives in a cool room away from sunlight
  • To activate the debittering process and mix in the salt gathered at the bottom of the bucket, regularly stir the olive and brine mixture (especially in the first two weeks)
  • Continue checking and stirring the olives regularly. The salt level needs to be maintained at 10% throughout the process. If the salt level drops below 6% there is a chance of spoilage.
  • Regularly taste the olives for bitterness. The debittering process requires some patience, seeing as it can take up to six months
    *A white layer of yeast might form on top of the water. This just shows that fermentation is taking place, so nothing to be concerned about.

To bottle:

  • Lay the olives on a towel for a few hours to oxidate
  • Place olives in a clean bucket and soak in vinegar for 12 hours to stop the fermentation process
  • Sterilise jars or bottles prior to bottling olives. There are plenty of ways to do this – in the
    oven, microwave, dishwasher or even on the stove
  • Bottle the olives in 6% brine solution (salt water) adding 1 cup of vinegar to every 4 litres
    of brine. For extra flavour, herbs such as rosemary can be added to the brine
  • After filling the jars or bottles, top the brine with 1cm layers of good olive- or
    vegetable oil and secure with lids

Recipe by Angele, part of the Friends of the Earth Malta team. 

Every month we feature a fruit or vegetable that is in season, along with a fun fact or recipe idea. We are currently working on a project, ACT4CAP, highlighting the importance of citizen involvement in agricultural policy to ensure healthy food and protection of our agricultural land. This project is a continuation of our previous work that was done through the Citizen’s CAP project and Agrokatina.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This article reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

This project is co-financed by the  Ministry for Education and Employment (MEDE) and the Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sport and Voluntary Organisation.

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