Raffaella, Luisa’s mother is essentially an agricultural encyclopedia! She has lived her entire life on a farm, where producing and preserving these amazing things was built into her everyday life. Along with hundreds of other gastronomic delights, she makes these cured olives “sott’olio”.
Oil-cured olives are olives which have been dry cured and then soaked in olive oil to restore their plumpness and act as a preservative. The resulting olives are very dense, with a rich, meaty flavor which most people find quite enjoyable, and they can be distinguished by their wrinkled appearance.
In (2010), the recipe was handed down to Luisa with direct supervision!
When oil cured olives are made, they are first packed in salt and allowed to dry out. Traditionally, the olives are packed into burlap sacks with layers of salt and then hung near the fireplace or in front of the wood-fired stove in the kitchen. The warmth and slight breeze help pull the moisture out of the olives and into the salt, creating wizened, hardened dried olives. These olives can be packed as-is, in which case they need to be rehydrated before use, or they can be packed in oil to make oil-cured olives.
As for the oil curing stage, the olives are simply packed into an airtight container and then oil is poured over them to cover them. Raffaella and Luisa also add orange and lemon rind, parsley, garlic and peperoncino. The oil rehydrates the olives, giving them a plumper appearance, and it preserves them so that they can be stored or shipped.
You should store unopened oil-cured olives in a cool, dry place, preferably in the dark. Once a jar has been opened, you should store them in your pantry, not in the fridge. Make sure you always keep the olives covered in oil, so, you might need to periodically add olive oil to your jar. We’ve kept them in the cupboard and never had a problem.