My Green Garden + Panton HIll Estate + Eltham Farmers' Market =
My Green Garden has presented food preserving demonstrations many times at the Eltham Farmers' Market but today's was exceptional for a couple of reasons. The first was that I went with no food to demonstrate on. Normally I bring everything - and the kitchen sink! - to demonstrations. The second difference was that today was freezing! Not just a cold day, but one with a blustery wind which kept threatening to take the marquee away each time it blew.
Despite the adverse conditions the crowds were out to get the best of local fare, which included that from Panton Hill Estate, a local olive grower. It was good to meet Peter from Panton Hill, a man who is also passionate about the olives he grows. He was selling black olives today, as well as some already cured to eat straight away; olive oils; and olive oil based soaps. It was his first time at the market and he seemed busy taking questions and sales from the discerning foodies that are at Eltham.
Peter provided the olives for the demonstrations that I used today. He grows Kalamata and Californian Queens and I used both for the different techniques that I was showing. It was good for people to go to his stall and have a taste of the two different olive varieties, both preserved the same way. Just like people can taste the difference between different apples. even if they're cooked the same way, so it is important to realise that the same technique used for different olives, especially if they're at different stages of ripeness, will taste very different.
The methods demonstrated showed that, the more effort you are prepared to put into the curing of the olives before bottling, the faster will be their eventual curing. So from the simplest method of putting the olives in a jar and filling it with brine, to methods where water gets changed regularly and vinegar gets involved; to the method of dry-salting and stored under olive oil, all were shown and tastings provided.
So these methods can be used on all black olives but I was keen to emphasise that the finished result and flavour will depend on the variety of olives used. And, of course, that the enjoyment of olives is much better appreciated well out of the blustery weather, with some nice bread and a glass or two of your favourite tipple.
If you missed the demos, the techniques can be found here.