Will any marinade soften overly tough large green olives?

I tried simmering in veggie broth before stoning and adding to pasta sauce: even an hour made little difference.

  • If something like that was going to work, I'd reckon stoning first might be better (to expose the flesh to the liquid).
    – Chris H
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 13:00
  • I reckon they are Gordal according to Serious Eats: firm, meaty richness. Most diners would send meat back this tough
    – Pat Sommer
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 21:36

1 Answer 1


No, you cannot soften them, by marinade or by other means.

Olives are pickled anyway, they have been sitting in a marinade for weeks. Adding a bit more will not change them.

The real difference between soft olives and hard olives is ripeness. Soft olives are a ripe fruit, and hard olives get picked and pickled while still unripe. This is no different than, say, an unripe peach - the fruit is simply not juicy. And unlike some kinds of fruit, you cannot ripen olives at home - since they are marinated, they are already dead and cannot develop any longer.

If you want soft olives, you have to buy the kind which is already soft. I would suggest trying to find Greek olives, they tend to be sold soft, as opposed to Spanish olives, which are sold in many supermarkets in Western Europe as tiny, hard, unripe and tasteless pieces.

  • If there are any references, then this is the correct answer.
    – Pat Sommer
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 21:38
  • According to oliveoilsource.com "Olives naturally turn black as they ripen. ... "Ripe Black Olives" in a can are actually olives which are neither black nor ripe when they are picked. They are picked very green and then cured using dilute brine and lye solutions. Lye treatments cause natural phenolic compounds in the olives to oxidize to a black color.Nov 7, 2005" conflicting info out there
    – Pat Sommer
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 21:42
  • theatlantic.com "First thing you need to know about curing olives with lye is that you must use fresh green olives. Not black ones, not half-ripe ones. The lye process softens the meat of the olive, so you want it as hard as possible (insert "that's what she said" joke here).Oct 28, 2010" so I might try drain cleaner as it is a gallon container otherwise going to waste
    – Pat Sommer
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 21:49
  • 2
    @PatSommer your olives are already cured, you cannot re-cure them. Sure, lye can soften anything made out of cellulose, but the result will be terrible in texture and taste. Also, pure drain cleaner will be way too concentrated to use on food, and may contain stuff beside pure sodium hydroxyde.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 22:01
  • I will experiment with a weak lye solution; what do I have to lose?
    – Pat Sommer
    Commented Jan 25, 2022 at 0:04

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