Olives (Fresh Cured)

When to Buy/In Season:
Olives turn from green to purple, then black, from October to January. Olives are processed and sold the following year.

How to Select:
Cured olives, as opposed to canned olives. Canned olives are green olives which have been soaked in lye to become black.

Organic Issues:
Organic olives are expected to become more difficult to find. An olive fruit fly discovered in 1998 now infests all olive growing regions in California, and olives cannot be used once the fly has laid eggs. Organic methods are available for treating this problem, but are relatively new.

Pesticide Issues:
EWG 2009 Dirty Dozen, not listed

How to Store:
Cured olives can be stored 1 – 2 months in the refrigerator. Keep cold and away from sunlight.


Commercially canned black olives may be stored at room temperature up to 12 months.

Untreated green olives are typically labeled for shelf storage of up to 2 – 3 years, but studies have show that after six month, the flavor, texture, and color may become unacceptable.

Once opened, keep olives refrigerated, submerged in the brine, to maintain quality and crispness.


Home canning is not recommended for olives (wow!). Several state organizations have discussions on their web sites. Black or ripe olives are low in acidity, and hence at risk for botulism if the olives are not acidified prior to canning. Without that, olives must be canned as a low acid food in a pressure cooking, using a process specifically determined to kill botulism spores.  Olive oil in the liquid may protect spores and bacteria from heat, making it difficult to properly process. Green olives are slightly more acidic, but still require acidification and pressurizing.

Photo Source: Bethany King

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  1. we planted an olive several years ago. Now we have a fruit bearing olive tree. We have decided to save our olives and brine or cure them. The question is how long can we store the raw olives and how do we go about storing the raw olives.

    Thank you for any help you can render.

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