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How to Cure Green Olives with Lye Step-by-Step

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Step 3 - Add Lye to Water, then Mix with Olives
100% Household Lye for Curing Olives

100% Household Lye for Curing Olives

Lisa Sierra (c) 2011 Licensed to About.com Inc.

Please read the safety notes below before using lye.

Pour approximately 1/2 gallon of lukewarm water into the 5-gallon bucket. Add 3/4 cup lye to the water. Do NOT add water to the lye to avoid splashing. Stir with a wooden spoon or stick. Add the mixture to the tub of olives, and stir in 3 gallons cool water.

After 8 hours pour out the water, and 3/4 cup lye to a 1/2 gallon of water and another 3-4 gallons fresh water. Repeat this process twice a day for 3 days. Olives will turn a darker green during this time.

Remember, olives should be stored in a cool place, like a garage or cellar, out of the reach of pets or children.

After 3 days, repeat the above process once a day for 3 days.

Safety Notes re Lye:

  • Be sure the container says "100% lye". If it doesn't, it is because there are other ingredients added for clearing clogged drains. Do not use those products (like DRANO brand) because the other ingredients are harmful to your health!
  • Remember, lye is a poison. It is composed of 100% Sodium Hydroxide, which is also known as Caustic Soda. When handling lye, be sure to read the label and follow all instructions.
  • Avoid contact with skin, eyes, and clothing. If lye does get on skin or in eyes, be sure to wash or flush immediately and thoroughly with clean clear water. Always wear gloves and goggles, or some type of eye protection when working with lye. There may be splash back, or a strong reaction when adding lye to water.
  • Be sure to keep lye out of reach of children and pets.

If you are curing more or less olives than this step-by-step and need to adjust amounts, the general rule of thumb is to use 3Tbsp lye per gallon water.

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