RECIPE: Do-it-yourself olives

by THE WEEKEND COOK with Maggie Cooper

OLIVES are very much an acquired taste, one that, thankfully, I learned to enjoy quite a few years ago. We grow terrific olives here in Australia. Our country has so many different climates in so many areas that there are few crops we cannot manage here once good farming practices are applied.
I often wonder how we first discovered olives were edible; the raw fruit is not thanks to a bitter compound called oleuropein. Depending on the age and variety of the fruit it can be leached out by splitting the olives and soaking them in water – changed daily – for a length of time (up to a month). Other varieties need to be cured by one of several methods using salt, brine or lye. So it’s quite a process to convert them to the tasty nibble we enjoy with drinks, on pizzas or as an addition to many Mediterranean recipes. I like to buy a good brand of Aussie olive and then marinate them myself. They are delicious served warmed with pre-dinner drinks. Just about any of your favourite herbs and spices can be used. My personal choices are thyme, rosemary, garlic, nigella (black cumin) seeds and a little dried chilli. Feel free to experiment: oregano, sage, marjoram, regular cumin seeds, mustard seeds, mandarin peel, and peppercorns are alternatives.

doityourself
Warm herbed olives
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS: 2 cups cured mixed olives
1/4 cup cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
zest of a small lemon
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
3 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tsp fennel or nigella (black cumin) seeds (optional)
1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)

METHOD: Drain brine from olives and discard.
In a small saucepan, combine oil, lemon zest, garlic and herbs, reserving one sprig of rosemary for garnish.
Add fennel or nigella seeds and chilli flakes if using.
Heat oil over a medium heat until garlic just starts to colour; don’t allow it to brown as it will become bitter.
Remove from heat and stir in the olives.
Cover and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes, preferably overnight.
Reheat gently before serving.
Contact Maggie at maggies.column@bigpond.com

(Source: https://www.chinchillanews.com.au)

Olives bring warmth to Lebanese health centre

In preparation for the coming winter, which is expected to be particularly harsh, the ICRC recently delivered 10 tons of olive husk fuel to heat the Al Rahma health clinic in the mountainous area of Chebaa in the south-east of Lebanon.

lebanon-health-olives

Chebaa is squeezed between the Syrian and Israeli borders and has long been directly or indirectly exposed to conflicts and their effects. Over the past few years, its population has grown considerably because of the presence of refugees from neighbouring Syria, which has put a significant strain on the already fragile local infrastructure.

Located at more than 1,300 meters above sea level on the slopes of Mount Hermon, this secluded area is also exposed to adverse weather conditions. Last January, it was hit by the Zina storm, claiming the lives of several Syrian refugees and seriously affecting many other inhabitants.
“Life is not easy here at times, and access to health services remains a major concern, especially in winter. It often snows heavily, roads get blocked and it becomes difficult to move around,” says the director of the Al Rahma health clinic, Mohamed Al Jarrar.

“Last year, because of the snow and the cold, we even had to close our clinic for a few days. But this winter, thanks to the biofuel supplied by the ICRC, we’ll be able to receive and treat our patients in warm conditions.”

(Source: https://www.icrc.org)