How to Make Olives Less Salty?
Having bought a jar of olives, do not rush to serve them on the table. To enjoy them, you need to make the olives less salty. How to do this, we will tell in this article, and at the same time we will explain why olives are salty and why you should remove salt from olives. In addition, you will learn how to make olives not only less salty but also more delicious. So let's go!
Why Are Olives Salty?
Almost all olives you can buy contain a lot of salt. Sometimes there is so much salt that it even seems that farmers do not salt olives, but olive trees. Moreover, they begin to water them with salt water immediately after the seedlings are planted.
Of course, it’s not true. Nobody salts olive trees, everything is much simpler. All olives are not originally salty, they are bitter, very bitter. If you pick even a fully ripe olive fruit from the tree, you will not be able to eat it due to its bitter-pungent taste and very harsh, astringent texture.
Why so? Olives contain a compound called oleuropein, which is responsible for their bitter taste. Oleuropein is a natural antioxidant found in the leaves, stems, and fruit of the olive plant. It acts as a deterrent to animals and insects that might want to eat the fruit.
The bitterness can be reduced by soaking or brining the olives before eating them. Immediately after harvest, the olives are placed in large barrels, filled with brine, and left in this solution for several months. However, sometimes olives are soaked in brine not for several months, but only for a couple of weeks. In this case, the olives are less salty but slightly bitter.
A salt solution helps to break down the compound oleuropein that causes the bitterness. During the process of brining, the salt penetrates the skin of the olives and creates a hypertonic environment, drawing out the bitter juices. The salt solution also creates an environment that supports the growth of beneficial bacteria, which helps to break down the oleuropein and other bitter compounds.
The amount of time required for the brining process depends on the desired degree of saltiness and flavor. The brining solution is changed periodically to ensure that the olives are fully immersed and that the solution remains fresh.
After brining, the olives are typically rinsed in fresh water to remove excess salt, and then stored in a fresh brine solution or olive oil. The result is an olive with a milder, more palatable flavor.
So, we got rid of the bitterness of the olives, but got another problem: now they are salty.
Why Should We Remove Salt From Olives?
We all know that salt is not only useful but also harmful. This is especially well known to people with diseased kidneys and high blood pressure.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends limiting sodium intake to less than 2 grams per day, which is equivalent to 5 grams of salt. This recommendation is for adults. For children, the recommended intake is even lower.
The bad news is that we consume much more salt than we realize because it is present in many processed foods and condiments. So without even touching the salt shaker, we get enough or even an excess dose of salt every day.
Olives contain an average of 6 grams of salt per 100 grams of dry product. This means consuming as little as 8 - 10 olives, we have to give up most other food for the rest of the day.
So what to do? Deprive yourself of the pleasure and health benefits of giving up olives? No way! There is a smarter solution: you need to make the olives less salty. You can even remove the salt from the olives completely, but you really shouldn't do this as you can also remove the flavor from the olives.
How to Make Olives Less Salty: Method #1
- Open a jar of olives and drain all the brine from it.
- Open cold water and rinse the olives in a jar for a minute.
- Fill the jar with olives with cold water, close and put it in the refrigerator.
- Repeat this whole procedure for 1-3 days with an interval of 10-12 hours.
Please note: After opening the jar, olives (like all other food products) must be refrigerated to avoid the growth of harmful bacteria. Refrigeration is crucial to prevent foodborne illnesses.
Are you curious to know what happened to olives as a result of your chemical experiments? That's what:
When you put salty olives into the water, a process called "osmosis" takes place. Osmosis is the movement of solvent molecules from an area of lower solute concentration (the water) to an area of higher solute concentration (the olives). In this case, the solute is the salt in the olives.
The concentration of salt inside the olives is higher than the concentration of salt in the water. As a result, water molecules will move into the olives, trying to equalize the concentration of salt on both sides. This osmotic process will cause the olives to absorb water and become less salty over time. The olives will also increase in size as they absorb water.
After a few days of soaking in water, the olives will have a milder taste compared to their initial salty state. The texture will also change, becoming softer due to the absorption of water.
So you've removed most of the salt from the olives. Now you can put them in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, drizzle with lemon juice, and sprinkle with oregano. Here is what you will get:
How to Make Olives Less Salty: Method #2
You may have noticed that not all olives you buy in the store are salty. You can buy olives marinated in a solution of vinegar and olive oil, and there are also herbs and spices.
These olives contain a little less salt than the olives we just used in method #1. In addition, they have a more varied and intense taste than just less salty olives.
And you know what? You can do the same with your olives. See:
- Open our favorite Halkidiki green olives and drain all the brine.
- Wash olives well in cold water.
- Pour all the olives into a large bowl.
- Make a cut with a knife on each olive and return them to the jar.
- Pour olive oil into the jar of olives
- Sprinkle with oregano and mix well.
- Put the jar of olives in the refrigerator.
After a couple of days, we take a few olives out of the jar and try them. Olives have become less salty, but this is not the most important thing. The taste of olives has become richer and more saturated, and the texture is more delicate and oily now.
Thanks to the incision in the skin of the fruit, the olives quickly absorbed the olive oil and oregano. Just like the water in the first case, the olive oil penetrated the fruit, absorbed the salt, and made your olives less salty.
Oregano is optional. You can add any herbs and spices: pepper, sage, garlic, rosemary, mint, or basil. Provence herbs will work great too. You can add some wine vinegar, as well as lemon or lime juice. Whatever, explore, try and discover new flavors!
This method has only one drawback: olive oil, herbs, and spices are much more expensive than water. But you know, it's worth it. Besides, isn't the joy of creativity precious in itself?
Speaking of disadvantages, the first method to make olives less salty (with water) can also run into problems. If you forget your olives and leave them in the water longer than necessary, they will become too bland and tasteless. Although this problem has quite an elegant and logical solution: just salt them.