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Jeremiah Tower Cooks

By Jeremiah Tower

Published 2002

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I think I am among a small minority of olive lovers when I say that I don’t really like strongly flavored cured olives, and that, in fact, I prefer the canned California green and black “Colossal” and “Jumbo” olives, even though I can hear the scoffing of my peers. It is not just a cop-out to like these olives, and not just a refuge from trying to remember the hundreds of varieties and names of olives (although that task has always overwhelmed me)—because I think that these canned olives, and many other mild-flavored olives, have great potential to satisfy.

I won’t go so far as to admit that I take strongly flavored Greek and North African olives and soak them in white wine before giving them the mild olive treatment, but here is what I do with the mild ones.

And by the way, olive oil is improved by this treatment, picking up flavor from the olives. So if you use regular olive oil instead of extra virgin, that is fine too.


  • 2 cups mild olives, green or black(canned ones are acceptable)
  • ½ cup fruity white wine
  • 1 teaspoon Pernod or other anise-flavored liqueur
  • 1 small orange, juiced and zested
  • 2 dried Jamaican pepper (allspice berries)
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 small lemon, zested
  • 10 black peppercorns(preferably Tellicherry or Madagascar)
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil


Drain and rinse the olives. Put them in a bowl with the wine, Pernod, and orange juice, and marinate for 4 hours.

Drain the olives and transfer them to a glass jar or ceramic crock. Add the orange zest, allspice, thyme, garlic, lemon zest, peppercorns, and olive oil, making sure that the olives are completely covered with the olive oil, and let them marinate for at least 2 days to pick up flavor and up to a couple of weeks before serving. However, if you are in a rush and have only an hour, this olive bath is still well worth the effort.