Olive plays a fundamental role in Lebanese life, and olive oil has been treasured for generation. The Phoenicians played a major role in spreading this evergreen tree around the Mediterranean. It is presumed that in the North of Lebanon, in a village of Bechealeh you find the oldest olive tree of the world, dating back to 4000 BC.
Lebanon is world renowned for its olives, with Lebanon virgin olive oil being among the most expensive varieties because of its high quality.
Across the country, many towns in between generation of families engage in olive harvesting. Lebanon’s fertile lands and mild climate provide the perfect condition for olive growth.
During my visit to Lebanon after 20 year. I was lucky to witness the olives being harvest at my cousin Land in the village of Jwaya south of Lebanon. A moment that I always dreamed of is harvesting my own olives and preserving them. I also enjoyed Jwaya popular raw meat frakeh and extra virgin olive oil that was made from the same trees. Thank you Najwa for your great experience and hospitality.
Pick some olives from the tree. Using a mallet, stone or the bottom of a cup.
With a firm stoke, smash the olives one at a time and place them in a large plastic bowl.
When all smashed wash the olives with clean water and repeat up to 3 times.
Drain using a strainer and then soak with clean water for an hour then strain again well till all the water has drained out of the olives.
Put back into the plastic bowl. Add a handful of coarse salt for every 1 and a half kilogram of olives, mix well with a wooden spoon. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside at room temperature.
Stir the olives with a wooden spoon three to four times a day for a week. You will notice that the olives are becoming darker in colour. After a week they ready to eat.
You can place some in the fridge as they are for quick consumption.
To store them for all year round, place the olives in a sterilized jar and cover the olives to the top with virgin olive oil. Seal and set aside in a cool dry place.