Olives - Olea europaea


From Carol Todd

RECIPE - Olives, black, ripe fruit, in cast-iron pot



8 oz. fresh, ripe black olives, gathered 9/26 (Unripe olives were green.)
2 oz. mordanted wool
2 quarts water
Cast-iron pot

1) Put olives, water, and presoaked wool into cast-iron pot.
2) Raise temperature to boiling (15 minutes), then simmer 1 hour longer.
3) Let cool in dyebath for an hour.
4) Rinse.
5) Dry in shade.

Note: After I dyed the yarn, I added 8 oz. more olives to the dyebath. Then I simmered it for another 1 1/4 hours. This made the colors more intense and the lightfastness was much better. Here are the results:


From Jeyhan
In my family, we have always put up our own olives (or as we like to call them, zeytunle). In the fall we will go and pick the olives in various stages of ripeness. Some green, some purple, some black, some grey, and when we can find the appropriate tree, some rose coloured ones.

Some we slit, some we don't. I find it a waste of time to slit the little puppies as it does nasties to the skin and surrounding areas where the slit is, real mushy. It is easier for bacteria to settle in. So I just put them in whole.

The brine is made in two ways:

Way #1
Put water into the bucket that you will be curing in. Add enough salt so that a raw egg will float. Drop in your olives. Let sit for a few days, pour off the water. SAVE THAT WATER, AS IT COLLECTS THE COLOUR. Repeat process over and over and over and over. When the olives no longer taste bitter, they are ready for spicing. Make a marinate and eat them, but save the water, as it is filled with colour.

Way #2 ( and the one I use)
Pick olives. Place in bucket. Layer with sea salt or kosher salt. Layers of olives and salt until you have them all used up. Let sit don't fuss.

In a few months*, or in just a few weeks*, you will have a very salty liquid that is either purple, or dark green and very salty. Pour that off and use that for colour. To prepare the olives for eating, remove them from the bucket, (leave salt in bucket). Put olives in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over them and let sit. Change the water twice a day for about a week or so. (or so is better). Taste periodically to where you feel comfortable with salt content. Add marinate let sit for a few days in marinate. (Marinate recipes available on request.)

*To determine how long to let them sit:
It all depends on the olives themselves. When you layer them in rock salt, the salt begins to leach out the liquid and bitterness from the olives. After a while, they are floating in this liquid, and that is where the colour is. IE I put up about a gallon of olives in a very small plastic container, and they did not start to sweat for at least a month. The container is about 16 inches tall with a lid. At the end of a month there was only two inches of sweat in the container. However, in my big 5 gallon buckets with lids, there was already 6 inches of liquid after the first month. So it does depend on how stubborn, ripe or unripe the olives are to begin with.

It has been our experience to put the wool into the #2 solution cold and let it set for a few days. The bitterness from the olives acts as a mordant and so does the salt. Alum can and has been added to the solution, or as a premordant to the wool, but is not always necessary. For some reason, it messes up the rest of the colour bath.**

**In answer to the questions, "How does it mess up the bath? " - What they (the dyers in the family) do is to soak the wool in an alum solution, and then they rinse rather well. They feel that the residual alum, or any mordant that is added to the dye stuff, deteriorates the dye bath. They want pure colour, and adding something to it is not consistent with pure or kosher/hallal laws. Acceptable is a iron pot, or a copper pot to cook and dye in. What is not acceptable is adding the foreign materials, alum, chrome, etc. to the dye bath as an additive.

For more intense colours, the wool can be boiled in some water with some of the solution, allowed to cool down. The colours that you achieve depend on the olives and when you pick them. Usually they put off a purplish colour that can go from a nice light purple, to a deep deep purple brown, if you let it sit for a very long time. Also, if you boil it, that brown colour comes up in the forefront.

We have found that a very good rinsing will help to remove the salt. We expedite the matter by adding Baking soda to the rinse water and allow the wool to sit in it for an hour or so, and then continue rinsing.

We have only done this with wool. I think that a few family members have used this on cotton, but I can not get a hold of them to find out the details.

Olive leaves will also give you a very nice light green colour. You treat that as you would eucalyptus leaves. Proportions etc.

We have never used dried olives, as there is usually too much oil in the olives that way, and it grabs the colour and makes a kind of tar that sticks to the wool. Hard to get off.

Hope that that gives you a good view of a Turkish application for Olives as colour.


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