How to Cure Olives With Lye

By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 16, 2017
How to Cure Olives With Lye

When curing olives, there are endless ways to prepare them and they're all delicious. In addition, you must first remove the bitterness that they have when they're first picked from the olive tree and this task can be accomplished in two ways: by soaking the olives and changing their water or by using caustic soda, more commonly known as lye. The second option will be discussed in this OneHowTo article where we explain step by step how to cure olives with lye.

More than 2 hours medium difficulty
You'll need:
  • Bucket or plastic container
  • Long stick or utensil
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Steps to follow:

It is important to know that caustic soda, commonly known as lye - is a substance made from sodium hydroxide (NaOH) which is very corrosive and has different uses, including domestic uses for tasks such as unblocking drains.

To cure olives, lye is not used as a dressing, but it is a fast method to remove the bitterness from the olives. We cannot pick olives directly from the olive tree and dress them, because they would be inedible - we must therefore cure them first.

How to Cure Olives With Lye - Step 1

It is also essential to know that lye is a dangerous product that we must handle with caution, since when this substance is dissolved in water it creates a chemical reaction that heats the water and releases toxic fumes. That is why you must avoid any splashes by wearing gloves and clothing to protect your skin.

How to Cure Olives With Lye - Step 2

To cure olives with lye, once you have collected or bought your olives, you should put them in a bucket or plastic container without cracking or splitting them and cover them with water. Then you should add the lye with caution and stir with a stick or other long utensil. Note that you need very little caustic soda: 3 tablespoons of soda is enough for 10 liters of water.


You must leave the olives to soak for about 8-10 hours for the soda to take effect and completely remove the bitterness from the olives. After this time, you must remove the water and rinse the olives with water. We also recommend that you leave them soaking in the clean water for another 24 hours.


Now you can start preparing whatever dressing you prefer for your olives. The truth is that there are countless recipes which often contain common ingredients such as herbs, lemon, garlic and salt. At OneHowTo we offer an example of the ingredients needed to prepare olives in brine

  • 5 kg of green olives
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fennel
  • A lemon
  • Salt
  • A clove of garlic

To prepare this olive dressing you have to boil the herbs in a pan for about 10 minutes; after this time, you can remove it from the heat and when the mixture has cooled, add lemon, together with the clove of garlic that you have previously crushed with salt with a pestle and mortar.


You must pour this mixture into the bowl where you have the olives and add enough cold water to cover them. So that the olives take on the taste of the dressing, you must leave them for a week before they can be consumed.

Once this time is over they will be delicious and ready to eat!

How to Cure Olives With Lye - Step 7

If you want to read similar articles to How to Cure Olives With Lye, we recommend you visit our Recipes category.

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