Natural Brine Curing
Olives get harvested and put into brine tanks within 24 hours. The brine consists of sea salt and water which is kept to an exact salinity and maintained. This process can take anything from 3 to 12 months.
Lye Processing before Natural Brine Curing
This process is also known as the “Spanish Cure” whereby olives are “cut” with Lye. Once the olives are harvested, they are washed in a Lye solution (also called Caustic Soda) for a period of 8 to 12 hours. This process allows the bitterness to leach out, whereafter it is washed at least 3 times to remove the lye solution. It is then put into natural brine to ferment. Due to the de-bittering at first, the last process will take no longer than 3 months.
This process is commonly used in Southern Mediterranean areas. Once the olives are harvested, they are placed in drums and alternatively layered with sea salt. These drums are then rolled weekly to promote dehydration. As soon as the bitter compounds have been removed, they are rinsed and covered with olive oil. This process allows the olives to be a similar texture to that of raisins with a pleasantly bitter taste.
This is an extremely rare process, mainly performed with Nyon (France) and Thassos (Greece) varieties. Due to exposure from hot temperatures and the sun, olives are fermented either on the branch or once picked. This results in olives with an extremely chewy texture yet a powerful, yet enjoyable bitter taste.