Super simple. The hardest part of this is gathering the components – the jars, the olives, the cheeses, the herbs, the labels – but once they are all at hand, making a dozen jars of stuffed olives will take an hour or two, and when done, you are all prepared with hostess gifts for the season!
Ingredients and Materials:
Olives – choose large pitted olives; buy enough to fill the number of jars you have.
Herbs – your choice. Experiment with different combinations of the following, or just use what you know you love: mustard seed, dried rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, freshly milled black pepper. You can’t go wrong. To further spice it up (carefully) add caraway seed, hot pepper, finely minced garlic and cumin seed. Pre-mix the herbs in a small bowl.
Cheese – for stuffing. You need only a small amount; very little will fit inside an olive. I used homemade Indian paneer cheese, but I wanted to distribute the olives immediately. If you want a longer shelf life, use a dry or semi-dry cheese like parmesan, sharp cheddar, or feta. You can also use cream cheese, farmers cheese, queso fresco, or goat cheese, except that these are rather soft and require a different technique for stuffing (use a knife to press the cheese into the hole). Whatever you like; it’s your creation! I cut the cheese into little sticks just a bit bigger than matchsticks. I started out making them too large, and cut them down bit by bit until they were a fourth as big around as when I started. It is easy to slide the cheese sticks into the olives. If the cheese sticks are too long, just snap them or cut them off so they fit perfectly in the olive.
Glass jars – use wide mouth jars so the olives will be easy to remove from the jar, and so people can admire how good they look when the lid is removed. I used Kerr wide mouth pint jars; they fit two levels of olives. Fill the jar with olives one by one, standing them on end until the bottom of the jar is filled. You will want to make sure they are packed nice and tight, so the last couple of olives you will be squeezing in. Once the bottom row is filled sprinkle in some of the herbs and spices, then proceed with the next row. My wide-mouth pint jars took two rows of upright olives. Sprinkle more herbs and spices over the last row, then add olive oil within an inch of the top. The top row of olives does not need to be covered with oil.
Close tightly with the two-piece lid. Then affix a round label to the lid (shape 11 is perfect for the Ball and Kerr wide-mouth lid) and add a tag and a ribbon if you wish. There you are. A savory gift, ready to give out to guests, friends, hosts and hostesses.
Guidelines for Simple Gifts:
• Plan ahead. Think about and decide what you want to do well in advance so you can do the shopping portion of the giftmaking along with other errands. Have all materials and ingredients on hand when it is time to make the gift.
• Packaging. Pretty packaging makes any gift special. Arm yourself with a supply of small boxes or cellophane bags and ribbon. We also recommend having your own personalized tags or labels on hand. Use generic wording so they can be used on a multitude of items. For example, mom’s tags and labels say “with love from Grammie.” With no reference to what the item is, they can be used on anything!
• It is not the item itself that is special; it is the idea that you think enough about a person to prepare something personally for them. Sometimes your gift doesn’t even have to be handmade; but hand-assembled. Follow this monthly series and you will see examples of both.
- Canning Labels • I chose the “Treasury” style in Apple.