Coriander Crushed Olives (“Elies Tsakistes”)

about 8 days
Makes about 2 cups of olives

1 heaped cup ripe and fresh green olives (do not use any that appear to be bruised)
water for curing purposes
For the brine:
1/4 cup salt
2 cups water
2 tbs lemon juice
olive oil to cover the top of the olives to preserve them
For the olive dressing for 1/2 cup of olives:
1/4 clove chopped garlic (add more to taste if you wish)
squeeze of fresh lemon
pinch of coriander seeds
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Take the green olives and crack them open using a stone (see the collage picture above). Do not crack the stone of the olives.

2. Put the cracked olives in a jar, fill with water and close the top. Leave for eight days, changing the water every two days. (We do this so that the bitterness leaves the olives).

3. On the 9th day rinse the olives well with water.

4. In a separate bowl, prepare the brine. Add the salt, water, lemon juice and stir until dissolved.

5. Place the olives in a jar, remove any that appear mushy and bruised. Pour in the brine until the olives are covered with brine. (You may not need all the brine). Pour olive oil on top of the olives and brine to form a layer of olive oil. This prevents any oxygen from getting in and will help preserve the olives for longer.

6. Store the olives in a cool cupboard, they will last for about 2-3 months.

7. The olives can be eaten on the 9th day as well, but are better enjoyed at least one week after they have been placed in brine. When ready to eat, place 1/2 cup of olives in a bowl. Add 1/4 clove of chopped garlic, a pinch of coriander seeds, a squeeze of fresh lemon, drizzle a little olive oil and add salt and pepper (if necessary depending on how long the olives have been in brine) to taste. Enjoy!

Last week I went over to my aunt’s house and there was a blue bowl filled with chunky green olives. It’s a funny thing those olives; they look so pretty but you can’t just go ahead and eat them. If olives could talk, they would say “patience is a virtue”. You either have to cure them, or squeeze them to enjoy them. I asked my aunt if she could teach me how to make “elies tsakistes” literally translated to mean crushed olives, but I prefer describing these as coriander crushed olives because – to me – that is the dominant flavour. When I went to my aunt’s house she was having her house painted and shower renovated so was busy cleaning up all the dust left behind from the painters. She handed me a rock and a slab of stone and hurried me outside to a chair. “I’ll show you one” she said and proceeded to smash an olive so that it cracked open – not completely – but a large crack nonetheless. She said “now you crack them, but not too hard and not to little”.

So I sat down and proceeded to crack open my little pile of olives and put them in a jam jar. Once I finished and my aunt came into the kitchen, she said “now fill the jar up with water and leave it for seven 7 days”. So I did. Making “elies tasakistes” is not difficult. I imagine the hard part, if you do not live in the Mediterranean, is actually sourcing some fresh and lovely green olives. The recipe below will last you for 2 to 3 months. In the recipe below, the flavours are added after the olives are ready to eat. I am also working on a recipe where the flavours are added in the brine itself. They aren’t ready yet, so I will let you know when they are.


  1. Am trying your recipe and now am at the point of brine preparing. I will let you know the results in a week.Hopefully it will be as delicious as I can imagine them.Am a first timer so am hoping for the best or at least somewhere near.

  2. I am making these for the 1st time – my husband bought some green olives from the local greengrocer. Seven days in water and they are still extremely bitter? Shall I leave them in the water for a few days more or go ahead with the brining and olive oil?
    Kind regards
    Tessa papadopoulos

    1. You should change the water every day. They need at least a couple of weeks to a month in the brine for the fermentation process to take the bitterness away.

  3. I know this recipe a but different. I took notes from old generation people who live in villages so you could tell it’s the traditional way.
    First after collecting the olives you wash them well. You put the olives in a plastic (non light through) jar and you leave the olives 4 days in the water changing the water once a day. The 5th day you do the brine.
    The brine you do the trick with a fresh egg. The egg should be cleaned well with soap. You preparing the salt water (sea salt) and every now and then you place the egg in the water. If the egg comes to surface the brine is ready. The olives in the brine would go over a year!

  4. Hi there, change the water every second day, add fresh water and close the lid. The day you are not changing the water, shake the jar for a few minutes. Do this for 10 days. On the 10th day wash them well. Put them in jars. Add the salt on top of them. Then fill the jar with fresh water.
    With this method my crushed olives last over a year in a cool not sunny place. When you are ready to serve, crush fresh coriander and add some slices of fresh garlic . You can add a slice of lemon in it too if you like.

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Cyprus Cuisine

“Cyprus Cuisine”, published by Whitecap Books in 2021, is now available for purchase. Christina Loucas shares over 80 recipes that showcase the very best of Cypriot cooking.

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