If you've never tasted a "fresh" olive, you've got a few weeks left to get Adams' Olive Ranch fresh-cured olives, an entirely different "fresh" fruit (they are still lightly salt cured or they would be too bitter to eat). For starters, they're bright green, retain that just-picked firmness, and truly taste like olives. Olive oil, actually. Go figure.
It's all in the salt cure balance, said "I'm just the tasting guy" -- Rick -- at last Saturday's Santa Monica Farmers' Market where he was doling out samples of fresh-cured olives. Olives are typically cured in a salt brine, then flavored with vinegar and spices, he explains. "These are rinsed in salt, but more quickly, and there is no vinegar or acid in these so a little of the olive oil stays in the fruit," he says as a couple of eager new tasters approach the stand. That absence of vinegar, and a very brief trip in the brine, is what lends such a subtle flavor to the olives. "But Gary over there knows how it really works."
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"Gary" is Gary Gillan, Adams' Olive Ranch's laid back sales representative whom you've probably seen manning the corner booth at both the Wednesday and Saturday Santa Monica Farmers' Markets. "These are picked green, like an orange that you pick green," explains Gillan. "But this is the last of the fresh ones we have from what we picked in October. Right now we're about to get into [harvesting] olives for oil."
Their fresh-cured olives also happen to be a great deal for really good handmade olives (about $10 for a giant tub). They're offered both straight up and seasoned with garlic, oregano and basil (we preferred the plain salted olives for their subtle flavor). Gillan says they will be available "until we sell out." How long might that be? "Well, I don't really know, but we've got about 100 gallons left," he said, nodding to a few large white plastic bins in the back of his van. "Maybe another four or five weeks, depends on how fast they go."
Adams' Olive Ranch fresh olives are available at the Wednesday and Saturday Farmers' Markets from $5.50 for a small plastic container to $9.95 for the large.