In centuries past, people didn’t have the modern conveniences like refrigeration to store their olives. They were forced to find many other storage methods still okay to use. With so many methods available, what is the best way to store olives?
The best way to store olives is in a sealed jar containing brine. Unopened jars should be stored in a cool place away from sunlight. Opened jars should be placed into the refrigerator and stored up to twelve months or the date on the jar.
This article will dive into detail, step-by-step, how to store olives in many different ways. In addition, I’ll cover how to identify if olives have gone bad and making your own olive brine.
This guide for storing olives includes:
- Storing store bought olives.
- Storing olives in brine.
- How to store olives without brine.
- Storing olives in the refrigerator.
- How to freeze olives.
- How to tell if olives have gone bad.
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How To Store Olives
1. Storing Store Bought Olives
There are many kinds of store bought olives 1. Some come in a jar or can. Depending what container they come in and if they’re opened or not, affect how they’re stored. Not everyone has the time required to brine their own olives.
The next best option for enjoying olives is to purchase a jar of store-bought olives. These olives will often be brined in a similar manner as the process mentioned below in the next step.
How to store a jar of store bought olives?
An unopened jar of store bought olives should be stored in a cool place under 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The olive jar should be kept away from sunlight. An opened jar should be stored in the refrigerator with the lid closed and the olives submerged in the brine.
If the olives were bought in a can, the unopened can should be stored in a cool place and away from sunlight. Once the can is opened, the olives should be placed into an airtight container, covered and placed into the refrigerator 2.
How long do store bought olives last?
Store bought olives last up to twelve months unopened or until the date on the container. Opened store bought olives sealed and submerged in brine, will last in the refrigerator up to the expiration date on the container.
2. Storing Olives in Brine
It’s possible to purchase fresh olives that haven’t been brined 3. The most common method for safely storing these fresh olives is by preserving them in brine.
Brining olives is relatively easy to do and requires the basic kitchen and household items. Let’s take a step-by-step look at how you can brine and store fresh olives easily and safely.
How To Brine and Store Fresh Olives:
- Remove any stems, leaves or compost.
- Thoroughly rinse the olives under running water.
- Score each olive lengthwise two times using a pairing knife.
- Place the olives into a medium to large size bowl.
- Start curing the olives by covering them in cold water.
- To keep the olives submerged in the water, weigh them down by placing a plate slightly smaller than the bowl on top of the olives.
- Let the olives soak for up to ten days changing the water every day.
- Make the brine by using water and salt. For every pound of olives, mix 1/2 tablespoon of salt into 50 ounces of water.
- Place the cured olives into jars and pour in the brine until the jar is full and the olives are submerged.
- Place the lid on the jar and tighten.
- Write the date on the jar.
- Store the sealed jars in the refrigerator or a cool basement up to one year.
Olives are naturally very bitter. The best way to rid the olive of its bitterness is to cure them in cold water 4. This is the most time-consuming step of brining your own olives, but it is worth the wait.
After ten days of curing, sample an olive to test its bitterness. If they are still too bitter, then continue the process until they are to your satisfaction 5.
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3. How To Store Olives Without Brine
It’s possible to purchase olives previously brined from a deli or salad bar without brine. If you have leftovers and want to save them, you’ll need to know, how do you store olives without brine?
Store olives without a brine by placing them in air tight bags for freezing or refrigerated in containers covered in oil. They can be frozen up to six months or refrigerated in oil for up to two months.
If you purchase olives not prepared in a brine, the unopened container can be stored in a cool cabinet up to the date on the package. Once the jar or container is opened, the olives must be stored in the refrigerator to preserve them.
Another option for olive storage without brine is to store them in oil. You can buy olives already stored in oil, or you can put olives in oil after purchasing them.
For store-bought olives in oil, as long as the container remains sealed and stored in a cool, dark space, the olives will stay good for months at a time or until the date on the container.
Once the container is opened, the olives must be resealed and stored in the refrigerator.
4. Storing Olives in the Refrigerator
Olives can be safely stored in the refrigerator after they are opened. An unopened jar or container of olives should be stored on a cool cabinet shelf or a wine cellar, although it can be refrigerated also 6.
After opening a jar of olives, they should be stored in the refrigerator to keep them from spoiling 7. A jar of olives that have been opened will go bad if they are stored anywhere besides the refrigerator.
How to refrigerate an opened jar of brined olives:
- Ensure the olives are submerged in the brine.
- Place the lid back on the jar and seal it tightly.
- Keep the jar in the rear of the refrigerator.
- Store in the refrigerator up to 12 months or until the date on the jar.
How to refrigerate an opened can of brined olives:
- Transfer the brine and olives into a bowl or food container.
- Cover the top of the container or bowl with plastic wrap.
- Date the container with the date noted on the can.
- Keep the container on a shelf near the rear of the refrigerator.
- Store up to the date noted on the can.
Liquid free olives from a deli or salad bar should be refrigerated. These olives typically are not submerged in a brine or olive oil, just marinated. For this reason they’ll spoil faster.
How to refrigerate opened liquid free olives:
- Place the olives into a food container or bowl and seal with a lid or plastic wrap.
- Keep the container on a shelf near the rear of the refrigerator.
- Store in the refrigerator up to three days.
Always check the jar or can for storage instructions noted by the manufacturer. Some companies have dates how long olives should be kept after opening. These dates can range from 10 days to 12 months.
Always follow the suggested dates. Although olives may be safe to consume after the “best if used by date,” it’s better to discard them because the quality, taste and texture are affected. Down further in this article, read how to know if an olive has gone bad.
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5. How To Freeze Olives
An excellent method for storing olives semi-long term is to seal them tightly in bags or containers and place them in the freezer. Frozen olives will stay good for up to six months and will retain their delicious flavor and texture.
Freezing them any longer may result in them spoiling or breaking down to mush.
How to freeze olives:
- Place the olives into a strainer and thoroughly rinse them under cold water.
- Allow the olives to fully dry.
- Space the olives out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Place the baking sheet into the freezer until the olives are frozen.
- Remove the baking sheet and transfer the olives into a plastic freezer bag.
- Remove the excess air and seal the bag.
- Date the bag.
- Store in the freezer up to six months.
- It’s important to let the olives fully dry. Moisture can lead to the olives sticking together, slime or freezer burn.
- If placing the olives into a container, allow 1/2 inch of headspace at the top.
- Freezing brined olives can help with the texture of the frozen olives when defrosted. If the texture has been affected, use the olives on pizzas or in pasta sauces to mask the texture.
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How do you defrost Olives? The best way to defrost olives is to transfer the frozen bag or container from the freezer to the refrigerator. Leave the frozen olives in the refrigerator until they are fully defrosted, typically overnight.
Can you freeze opened canned olives? Opened canned olives can be frozen by rinsing them, drying them and placing them into a plastic freezer bag. Remove the excess air, seal and store in the freezer up to three months.
Can olives in oil be frozen? Olives in oil can be frozen. They should be rinsed and dried before placing them into plastic freezer bags. Remove the excess air from the bag and store in the freezer up to three months.
Can you eat olives that have been frozen? Frozen olives can be consumed after they are defrosted. If the texture quality has deteriorated due to the freezing process, use the olives in cooked dishes like pizza or tomato sauce.
6. How To Tell if Olives Have Gone Bad
There are times when the date has worn off the olive container. Other times the date was never written on the storage container making it unknown how long the olives have been stored. How do you tell if olives have gone bad?
Determine if olives have gone bad by smell, visual inspection or tasting. If the odor smells different or off, the olives should be discarded. If mold appears, the olives are discolored or the brine has spots of different color, they have gone bad. If the olives taste different or the flavor has changed, they should be discarded.
An olive jar or can should be discarded if any of the following is present:
- If the seal on an unopened jar has been broken or the lid has been popped.
- The jar is leaking.
- The can is leaking.
- The can is rusty.
- The can is dented.
- The can is bulging.
If you are unsure for any reason if the olives have gone bad, it’s best to discard them.
What happens if you eat bad olives? Eating bad olives may result in stomach pains, diarrhea or vomiting. If the symptoms are severe or get worse, consult with a physician.
Can you leave olives at room temperature? Unopened olives can be left at room temperature less than 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They should be kept out of sunlight and once opened placed into the refrigerator.
What can I do with leftover black olives? Leftover black olives can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container. They can be rinsed, dried and placed into plastic freezer bags and frozen up to six months.
Did you know olives are a good replacement for electrolytes? Find out more in my article, 17 Gatorade Substitutes.
Read Next – More Food Storage Articles!
- Wikipedia: Olive
- California Ripe Olives: Frequently Asked Questions
- Olive Wellness Institute: Table Olives
- University of California: Olives: Safe Methods for Home Pickling
- UC Cooperative Extension: The Lye Cured Olive
- Mezzetta: Frequently Asked Questions
- Washington State University: Food Safety After Power Outages