Making olive tapenade

Making olive tapenade

The following extract is taken from Producing Table Olives by Stan Kailis and David Harris (only available as an electronic book) pp237-239.

Tapenade is an olive paste popular around the Mediterranean region, especially in France, and now internationally. It is used as spreads and dips. The basis of tapenade is the ground flesh of processed green, turning colour or black olives, to which capers, anchovies and other foods and spices are added. The addition of capers differentiates tapenades from other olive-based pastes.

Traditional French tapenade from Provence contains the flesh of Olives of Nice, 2% capers, thyme, savoury and a small quantity of extra virgin olive oil. Olives of Nice are processed in brine for 6–12 months. The original recipe can be embellished with additional herbs and spices as well as other foodstuffs.

In addition to destoned, processed, black, turning colour or green olives, preserved capers and olive oil (preferably extra virgin olive oil) are added. The following ingredients are often included: garlic, salted anchovies (or tuna), lemon juice, cracked pepper, aromatics (herbs and spices) and foodstuffs (pine nuts, chilli, sun-dried tomatoes).

Almost any processed olive can be used to make tapenade, but it is very important that the tapenade is not too salty. Pitted processed olives should be drained and dried over 24–48 hours before crushing into a paste. Alternatively, commercially available olive paste can be used instead of pitted olives.

Salted anchovies in oil should be used, or alternatively the anchovies can be replaced wholly or partly with tuna. For commercial production, dried herbs and spices should be used. For home preparation or for immediate use, fresh herbs, spices and garlic can be used as long as the tapenade is stored under refrigeration. Cracked pepper is added to taste. Depending on the oil content of the processed olives, the amount of extra virgin olive oil required is gauged so that the desired final consistency is achieved (not too runny and not too dry).

Boutique level producers can make tapenade using a standard food processor whereas small- and large-scale producers will need to use commercial grade equipment.

Note: As there is substantial handling of ingredients during the preparation of tapenades, all aspects of hygiene and health and safety requirements must be observed to prevent contamination with potential food poisoning organisms.

A Tapenade recipe

Destoned processed black olives (drained)* 900 g

Capers (drained) 180 g

Garlic (equivalent to 15 fresh cloves) 6 grams

Extra virgin olive oil GMP**

Cracked pepper to taste

* destoned green or turning colour olives can be used;

**, sufficient olive oil is added to give the desired consistency.

Additions can be made to the basic tapenade recipe according to taste or commercial requirements eg anchovy fillets.

Note: Tapenades containing seafood or nuts may cause allergic reactions in susceptible consumers, so containers should be labelled with appropriate warnings.

Step-by-step method for making tapenade:

  • Destone processed olives or use commercial destoned olives
  • Drain destoned olives if required
  • Rinse olives with potable water
  • Check that there are no stones
  • Place the olives, anchovies (if included), capers and garlic into the food processor
  • Apply short sharp impulses to the mixture to give a moderately coarse paste
  • Add sufficient olive oil and mix in to give a slightly granular firm paste (not runny).
  • Pack into containers
  • Pasteurise
  • Send representative samples of olives to a microbiology laboratory for testing
  • Label packed processed olives in accordance with Food Standards
  • Implement a safety recall system for faulty packed tapenade