Water-cured Olives

Use white vinegar for green olives, red vinegar for black ones. For seasonings, use olive oil plus minced garlic and/or chopped fresh or dried herbs such as oregano, thyme, or rosemary.

Recipe from Sunset

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  • 2 gallons (10 to 12 lb.) firm olives, green to purple-black
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cup salt
  • 7 cups white or red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


  1. 1. Sort olives, discarding stems, leaves, and bruised or moldy fruit; rinse olives and drain. With a knife, cut down 1 long side of each olive through to pit.
  2. 2. Place olives in 1-gallon or 2-quart jars (glass or plastic; 2 gal. total volume) with noncorrodible lids, filling to within 1 inch of top. Fill jars to brim with water. Partially fill pint-size heavy plastic food bags (1 for each container) with water and seal; set a bag on top of olives in each jar to keep fruit submerged (water will overflow a little). Set jars away from sunlight.
  3. 3. Once a day, drain water from the jars, holding olives back with your fingers. Rinse any foam or scum from jars and bags; refill the jars with cool water. (You may see a small amount of harmless bubbling in water; olives will also lose their brightness and leak color into the water.) Repeat daily (it's fine if you miss a day now and then) until olives have a mild, pleasantly bitter taste, about 5 weeks total.
  4. 4. Drain olives and pour salt equally over olives in jars.
  5. 5. Pour vinegar and 7 cups water into a 5- to 6-quart pan. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Pour hot liquid over olives to within 1/2 inch of jar rims. Let cool. Pour olive oil on top of liquid in each jar to completely cover surface, then secure lids.
  6. S$? S(?rate olives until vinegar flavor permeates them, 2 to 3 weeks. Taste; if desired, add 1/2 cup more salt equally to jars and chill for 2 more days or up to 6 months. With time, olives become increasingly mellow. Once a month, check oil surface for scum or mold; skim off any. If olives smell fine and are firm, continue to store. If olives smell bad or become soft, discard.
  7. 7. To serve, remove desired quantity of olives with a slotted spoon. To season, coat lightly with olive oil and add garlic or herbs to taste (see notes).
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