I sort of fell off the face of the blogging earth. I've been busy scheming up ways to make extra money and tying up lots of loose ends. I know that most of us are all on the conserve-every-penny boat, which sucks, but I guess the bright side is that there's lots of empathy and moral support to go around.
I've been thinking about things to do to save money. (which I always do, even in more flush times-- I consider myself "delightfully frugal", my husband would use different terms when I'm explaining to him why I didn't buy magic shell for his ice cream.) I've noticed there's been a huge resurgence of canning recently, which is wonderful, however, it seems like a lot of people are going to the store, buying things in bulk and saving $1.20, and then canning them in jars that cost $10/dozen. If it's a matter of having food set aside in case there's a food shortage, then that's one thing, but if you're doing it for financial reasons, then it doesn't really make sense unless it's your own surplus crop or you're getting a really unbelievable deal on those apples. Just a thought.
So, I played crazy neighbor lady and picked 4 pounds of olives off the vacant (in foreclosure) house across the street. Three or four of my neighbor friends came over mostly to hang out and laugh at me while I picked, one neighbor decided it might be a fun idea and filled all the pockets on his cargo pants. I watched several youtube videos about brining olives, and it seems easy enough, so I'm giving it a go. You can watch them yourself, but they all say basically the same things. Here is the info pared down for you:
1. Pick olives, preferably between rosy and dark purple in color. Don't get them off the ground, they are probably covered in various animal pees.
2. Make a brine. Add kosher salt/pickling salt to water and stir so it dissolves. Keep adding more salt until the brine is concentrated enough to make a fresh egg float.
3. Put olives in a jar and weight them down with something so they won't float in the brine. (I used cut up pieces of those plastic basket things strawberries come in.)
4. Add brine to the jar and make sure all of your olives are covered.
5. Change out your brine about once every month or two, the more often you change it out the faster your olives will become edible. Some suggest every two weeks, some say every three months, depending, your olives will be ready in 2-6 months. (Months??!! I know, but they're free! :) )
Brining olives gets rid of the bad bitterness and makes them safe to eat. Don't eat them raw, that would be bad news.
The brine has already started to take out some of the color, resulting in some splotchy olives
P.S. If you're in the Phoenix area and want to learn about keeping chickens, I'm teaching a class for the Phoenix Permaculture Guild at the downtown farmer's market from 8-9:30 AM this upcoming Saturday (11/22).