All olives, including oil-cured ones, must be cured to be palatable. That’s because olives picked right off the tree have an unpleasantly bitter taste that curing mitigates. There are several mediums for curing olives, including salt, brine, and lye. Oil-cured olives begin life as ripe (black) olives. They’re first dry-cured in salt, which makes them less bitter while concentrating and enhancing their flavors. Next, the salt is removed, and the olives are soaked in oil, which is sometimes flavored with spices and herbs like oregano or thyme , adding other layers of flavor. Though these olives still have a telltale prune-like exterior that comes from salt-curing, the oil rehydrates them, making them slightly plumper and meatier.
Intensely flavored, oil-cured olives may be served on their own or added raw to salads. When cooking with them—they’re delicious in braises—consider adding them toward the end of cooking because they can become bitter if overcooked. Look for them where other olives are sold.like oregano or thyme