by UC Davis Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Read full olive curing information here.
Harvested olives must be “cured” to remove the bitterness in order to make them palatable. The most common curing processes use brine, dry salt, water or lye treatments. During these curing processes the water soluble oleuropein compound is leached out of the olive flesh. The flavor and texture of each style of olive depends partly on the curing process used.
To prepare olives for water curing, you must first individually cut or crack each olive so that the bitter oleuropein can more easily leach out. The prepared olives are soaked in water and the water is changed daily over a week or more, depending on the olive style and the desired level of bitterness. After curing, the olives are placed in a finish brine, which is a vinegar salt solution that adds the characteristic flavors. The advantage of this method is that the olives are ready to eat within a few weeks. Read more methods of curing olives here.