souri green cracked olives
food from home
For one half of shorkk, these souri green cracked olives mean “home”. We’ve tried a fair few since leaving Lebanon, but nothing came close to these souri olives. It’s hard to overestimate the importance of food from home. Tasting something which evokes the culture and life of a land left behind is a powerful thing. Being able to offer them to those who might never go to Lebanon, creates a bond over the shared enjoyment of an olive.
Grown at 550 metres above sea level on the slopes of hills around Beino, in north Lebanon, this variety has been cultivated here for hundreds of years. The variety is ideally suited to the terraced land where it grows. As a native variety, it is able to adapt to the challenges of climate change better than a new variety.
Curing olives is an important part of Lebanese culinary tradition. Families buy quantities of fresh green olives in the autumn at the beginning of the harvest to preserve at home using their own recipe.
The olives are washed, changing the water several times until it runs clear. This can take between 3 to 5 days. Then they are “cracked” with a heavy wooden mallet, before being put in a preserving solution. Zejd’s recipe adds a little white grape vinegar to the salt and water solution.
In Lebanon olives appear at most meals. They’re not an usually eaten as an aperitif. To serve them, drain them from the brine, and add a little Zejd extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon to give them a glossy coat. You can add a bit of sliced up lemon too. Delicious for breakfast with labneh, za’atar, cucumbers tomatoes and flat bread.
and in recipes....
If you stop yourself from eating the olives in your fingers, chewing on the pit to get all of the flavour out, how about using them in a salad? Barbara Massaad in her lovely book Mezze has a recipe from an Armenian restaurant which is a wonderful way to incorporate olives into your diet. Remove the pits by squashing the olive firmly with a flat chopping knife. This releases the floral fragrance of the olive, and reminds you of what an olive should taste like!