Whilst out olive picking I surreptitiously fill a bag with olives to take home. I want to try pickling my own olives this year. My good intention is to give all my friends and family a homemade hamper for Christmas. Homemade chutneys, flavoured olive oil and cured olives. I might even marinade them.

Of course my mother in law has been curing olives for centuries years. But I don’t ask her how to do it. I ask Google. And Facebook. I don’t ask her because I’m scared she will only give me half the story. Miss out the secret ingredient that makes hers so delicious. Like she did when I asked for her Pastitsio recipe. Or the Dolmades recipe. So when I make them they turn out a mere shadow of her version.

‘What are you going to do with those olives?’ she asks me the next day.

‘Hmm? Oh yes! The olives. I meant to ask you, how do you cure them?’

 ‘Give them to me, I’ll do them for you.’ No family recipes will be imparted today. But she catches my reticence, ‘Just put them in water. And add some salt.’

 Basically, there are two ways you can pickle them according to my googled results, but I must watch out for botulism. (That wouldn’t be a very nice Christmas gift, would it?) You can put them straight into brine after slitting them. Or you can put them into fresh water, changing it every day for a week, and then put them in brine. I try both. I obsessively watch for slime (botulism) So far so good.

Lunch at my mother in laws today. Pastitsio, greek salad and a plate of olives.

‘How are yours coming along?’ she asks me. She can’t keep the smile from her face.