Olive Lore

Use the juice - 8 ways to make the most of your olives

One of my favorite things about buying a good can or glass of olives is that i know none of its contents will go to waste, meaning I get more yield for my money.

In this article I will share with you not just a saving tip, but also a trick to enhance the flavor of some of your favorite dishes. Let’s dig in to the jar (pun intended).

jar of olives in brine bowl of olives and dry martini with olives next to each other on a kitchen counter

What is olive juice?

Olive juice – or olive brine – is the salty substance that is used to marinade and store olives in. Olives as a natural product doesn’t taste that well hence the need to marinade them for human consumption.

By default, brine is made up of water, salt and vinegar. That’s it! In time, the brine and olives will fuse and create a unique delicious taste – umami some will say.

The piquant, or even zesty flavor that is created with this fusion have a variety of different usages, hence you should never let any of it go to waste.

Also, as brine is made of natural healthy ingredients it is totally safe, and when mixed with the nutrients of the olives it even becomes healthy. Some studies have even established a solid connection between olive juice and anti-anxiety and depression effects.

Remember, however, everything with moderation.

List of ideas for using the olive juice

1. Add it to a nice homemade soup

Soups are amazing, particularly because you can experiment so much with the ingredients making each unique. Using olive brine can really do wonders, especially in vegetable soups like carrot soup or minestrone.

2. Pour on salads and vegetables

If you’re having trouble getting enough vegetables because, well, not all people find it easy to savor them, you might want to try out this tip. Mix the olive brine with your favorite  vinaigrette to add a salty taste to it and balance the sourness. This mix will surely make salads, broccoli, kale and other greens far more savory.

3. Use as marinade for poultry

Turkey and chicken are favorites on the dinner table in most parts of the world, particularly here in the West where holidays like Thanksgiving calls for turkey dinners. Olive brine will make a delightful broth along with herbs, lemon, garlic, kosher salt, peppercorns and what else you prefer.

4. Homemade bread, anyone?

Ever since I was a kid I have always appreciated homemade bread, especially nice warm and spongy when it’s fresh. Anyway, try and add olive brine to your dough and I promise you will get a fantastic taste that will enchant the entire family. Search for bread recipes with olive brine, there are plenty to choose from on the internet.

5. Your own special pasta sauce

Let’s travel to the Mediterranean for a quick note, more precisely to Italy. Here we find an old sauce known as marinara, in local mouths, sailors sauce. This very basic sauce is made up of tomatoes, garlic, capers and onions, a great companion to spaghetti and pasta. The good thing about marinara is that it is very simple to add in other ingredients and experiment with the flavor, and very difficult to mess it up. Add in your olive brine which will go fantastic with the sweet tomatoes in the sauce. The olives themselves will too add in an extra dimension making the sauce extra savory.

6. Dirty cocktails

Find your inner mixologist, a couple of glasses and a jar of premium green olives. Whether you are looking to impress your guests, or just enjoy a cold cocktail, the dirty variations of two of the most iconic drinks in history are waiting for your attention. Dry Martini becomes a dirty martini with just a ½ ounce of olive juice, and a Bloody Mary becomes a Dirty Mary with just ½ cup.

7. Hummus a la brine

Looking to spice up a dull homemade hummus? Olive brine to the rescue. Hummus is not for everyone, especially if not spiced sufficiently. And it’s a darn shame, because hummus is super healthy and super delicious on bread or as accessory to a main dish. Instead of only using the olives in the hummus, add a couple of tablespoons of olive brine to your favorite hummus recipe and miracles will start to happen.

8. Brine sautéed vegetables

Most people would agree that sauté is an amazing cooking method, as it really brings out the flavors and nuances of vegetables, while it only takes a short time to prepare. Next time you bring out the sauté pan, add in a drizzle of olive oil accompanied with brine and possibly some Italian herbs.

A couple of words of thought

Before you go and pour unlimited amounts of olive juice in your dishes and beverages, keep in mind that brine is really salty. So, if you plan to use it alongside something that already is salted, it may not be a good fit.

Another thing, and quite important actually, make sure your olive juice is from a jar or glass of high-quality olives. Low-quality olives come in an artificial brine with a lot of preservatives that makes it unhealthy and doesn’t taste as described here.

Olive juice is found in jars of both green and black olives. Green olives are unripe fruits, and they boast a far more piquant flavor than black olives. For the purpose of using the olive juice, use the brine from green olives.