Harvest olives and wash well. Be sure to remove any stems, leaves, and debris.
Slice each olive with a knife. Place sliced olives in cold water and store in an air tight container for 3 days. Change the water one to two times per day. This helps to remove much of the bitterness.
Olives are ready to can on the 3rd or 4th day.
Prepare brine by mixing salt and water. Stir until salt is dissolved. Slice lemons.
Place one slice of lemon in the bottom of each canning jar, followed by a sprig of thyme, 1 clove of garlic (sliced into 3 pieces) and a hot pepper (if desired).
Pack each canning jar with pre-soaked olives. Be sure to really pack them in tightly.
Pour brine solution into each canning jar. Top off each jar with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Place a lid on your olives and store at room temperature for 30 days.
After 30 days, your olives are ready! If they are too bitter for you, leave for 2 additional weeks.
Too salty? pour out half of the brine solution and top off with water, being sure to drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and taste again in 2 weeks.
Olives can be stored for one year. No refrigeration or canning bath needed.