This is one method that my family uses to prepare olives for the table. The constant soaking and changing of water removes the bitterness. Fennel stalks can be found in markets and, if we’re feeling adventurous, on roadsides — we choose the thinner green stalks. We make this in a large bucket, cover it with a cloth and keep it in a cool place.
Wash the olives, removing any stalks and leaves. Split the olives with a firm whack of a hammer, leaving the stones inside.
Put the olives in a large plastic bucket and cover them with plenty of water. Cover the bucket with a clean tea towel (dish towel) and keep in a cool place. Change the water every day, for 7 days.
After a week, discard the water then add the white vinegar, thyme, garlic, lemon wedges and fennel to the olives. Top up with fresh cold water. Allow to stand in a cool place for 3 weeks. (My dad stores them in his shed, covered with a cloth.)
After 3 weeks, remove the olives from the brine, sprinkle with salt and put the olives in sterilized jars (sterilize the jars by boiling them, including the lids). Cover with the olive oil.
Other flavourings can be added at this stage, depending on the size of the jars, such as
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