Answer: Olives from the tree are too bitter to eat. The bitterness can be removed by soaking the olives in a lye solution - but be careful, lye can burn! Begin by washing the olives and then placing them in a jar with a solution of 1 Tablespood lye mixed into one quaret of water. Soak for 12 hours and then drain. Add fresh lye solution and soak for 12 more hours. Cut an olive to see if the lye has penetrated all the way to the pit. (You'll be able to tell by the texture of the olive.) If not, soak for 12 more hours in fresh lye solution. Rinse thoroughly and soak in fresh water for 3 days. At this point, taste an olive to make sure no traces of lye remain. Soak in a birne solution (6 Tablespoons salt to one gallon water.) wash and soak in vinegar for 24 hours. You can then store the cured olives for about 2 months by putting them in fresh water or in olive oil and storing in the refrigerator.
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