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How to smoke olives without a smoking gun  

Ryan Grim
March 05, 2018

Are your homemade bloody marys more like bloody scarys? After you offer friends a bloody mary do they reach for the worcestershire and hot sauce and say, “It’s goooooood, just needs a little something.” If yes, you may suffer from what doctors call Wack Bloody Mary Syndrome. Symptoms include: super tomato-y taste, lack of seasoning, and poorly mixed ingredients. Treatment should be administered immediately: Learn how to make bloody marys now and greet the problem head on. Your bloody mary health is your responsibility, and you need to be your own advocate. Happy healing.

Once your bloody marys are in good shape, you should think about advanced fixins, and the fixin I want to proselytize about right now is smoked olives. Smoking your olives is great for bloodys (or martinis, or most cocktails) because it gives the fruit an unexpected depth. A smoked olive is no longer just a little garnish—it's a rich, smoky sidekick to your cocktail. People who wait until the very end of a bloody to savor the vodka-soaked olives will especially love smoked olives. I picked up this techinque at the recent IACP conference in New York at an enlightening seminar sponsored by the group California Ripe Olives. You can also use a smoking gun, of course, but if you don't own one and your food-geek neighbor is out of town and you can't borrow hers, here’s how to do it.

Smoked Olives

Recipe courtesy California Ripe Olives

What You Need

2 15-ounce cans ripe olives
1/2 cup coarse smoker wood chips
1 8-quart stock pot with pasta steamer insert, or a steamer rack
Heavy duty aluminum foil
Tip: Use an old pot when you're smoking indoors


1. Soak the wood chips for 30 minutes prior to smoking.

2. Line the bottom of an 8-quart stock pot with aluminum foil.

2. Drain the wood chips and place on top of the foil. Cover with a second piece of foil.

3. Place a pasta insert or steamer insert in the pot. if you don't have an insert, you can use a steamer rack—just prop it up with bunched aluminum foil so that it is at least 3 inches above the wood chips. Cover the pot with t a lid and place over high heat. After about 5 minutes on high heat, smoke should start to seep from the pot. If the chips have not ignited, uncover the pot and help the chips along with a lighter ot culinary blow torch.

4. Uncover the pot and add drained olives to the steamer rack or basket. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Use foil to wrap the top edge of the pot where it meets the lid to keep the smoke from escaping.

5. Smoke for 25 to 30 minutes.

6. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Use in any recipe that would be better with smoky olives, which is most recipes.

Note: This works for making smoked olive brine too, which is also a wonderful addition to a bloody mary. Just use a heat-resistant bowl that will fit in your pot, and place it in the steamer insert or pasta insert.


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