Making Homemade Pickle Relish
PART 1 IN order to make good pickle relish, you gotta have pickles, the wonderful veggie known as (cucumis sativus) to get this show on the road. IF you have a few too many cucumbers, either from your over stuffed garden or you bought a basket and its going to waste, here's a simple recipe to help you unload some of these green delicacies. Can you tell I love cucumbers? Now here you will find a large ludicrous argument about what kind of cucumber is best suited for this purpose. One school of belief is ANY green cucumber can be used to make relish, while the other says the gherkin (smaller than the average cuke) is the best way to go, because its crisper. FOR this I say "to each his own." ALL I know is that when my parents owned their own restaurant a few millennium ago (or so it seems) we pickled what ever cuke was available and their homeade relish was well liked and known throughout North Ontario.
VERY IMPORTANT fact: DO remember though any overripe cuke will make a mushy relish.So saying your using 1 pint mason jars, insert at least 3 pickles per jar, with the ends cutoff into a big bowl keeping the cuke lenghts to say 5-6 inches in length. Now take some cold water to wash them off and begin to chop them up finely into oh lets say 1/8th to a quarter inch slices, or finer if you prefer your relish smaller. Personally I liked the different sizes you get. Now you're gonna need some green and red peppers. I recommend 3 of each which you wash and chop very finely too. This should give you about 6 cups of mixed peppers which you put into the bowl alongside the cukes. Now its time for the onions, of which I prefer the white variety, but you could use any large variety favorable to you. Peel them, cut them in half, then dice them up, you should be getting 2 cups from 2 onions as a rule. That too goes into the bowl.
Now you need some ice, some water and some pickling salt, and here is how you do it. ADD 3/4 of a cup of pickling salt, then 4 cups of cold water, followed by 2 cups of ice (not shaved) to the mix or more if required to submerge all the ingredients, and then let this set for 6 hrs. or overnight covered by saran wrap or foil.
Now its time to drain the salt water from the rest, and refill the bowl with water and ice again then, let it set for at least 1 more hour only. So now, after the alloted time is up, drain it one more time. IF you see the stickiness in your recipe, using cold water, repeat the process.
While this is going on take a large bowl, its time for the vinegar and spices to mix. Here you will combine 4 tsps of mustard seed, turmeric, allspice making sure its whole not granulated, and then add your cloves to the spice mix. ADD 2 cups of white sugar, then 6 cups of vinegar. The best white vinegar is the 5% apple cider variety. NOTE instead of allowing a spice mix, some people prefer putting it into a cheesecloth bag. However that 's not my cup of tea.
OK lets gather the spice mix prepared above with the vinegar, put it in a large cooking pot and bring it to a low boil. Then pour it (using ladles and wooden spoons) while its still steaming hot over the 1st bowl of finely cut veggies we prepared. AFTER this cover it with foil, (my preference) and stick it in the fridge allowing it to set for between 24-36 hours of time. DO not allow it too freeze! Now your ready to put the mix into a typical mason jar, so in the next part be prepared to learn about sterilization of jars, and the old fashioned canning system. See ya then.
PART 2 NOW that we have the recipe prepared lets move on to canning or jarring using proper sterilization techniques shall we.
Gather all the mason jars you think you will need based on the amount of food that will be jarred. Here some people prefer to use the dishwasher, so make sure you use the "sanitize" cycle when doing so. You can also do this for the lids. Remember when doing this always let the rinse cycle run its course too to get rid of any lingering soap. IF you do not have a dishwasher then scrub them good by hand (wearing gloves) using very hot water, or the third method is bring a huge clean 3/4 full pot to a boil and using tongs submerge the jar lids rings entirely until your satisfied they are clean. Should you use the pot, scrub it clean and prepare for it for re-use. As another thought came thru my brain I remembered that all lids and cover rings should be washed and dried by hand to prevent later spoiling of the relish. I cannot say it enough SANITIZE SANITIZE!!
OK now grab your bowl from the fridge, uncover it and using a clean sanitary pot fill it half with water bringing it to a boil again, then dump the ingredients using a wooden spoon into said pot, like a witches brew allow it to come to a full boil stirring steadily.
Now ladle the relish from the still hot pot into your clean mason jars being sure to not cram it in but stopping about 1/2 inch from the top, repeating process until all jars are filled. Now you seat the ring over the top of the jar and install the cover getting it hand tight for now. NOTE a 1 pint jar is big enough for our purposes, and larger jars won't make as good a relish either. Now your boiling pot is going to be used as a canner.
Install your jars into your big clean pot only adding as much water as is needed to completely submerge your 1 row of jars 1'' below the surface. Bring that water to a boil keeping the jars in the water for 15 minutes at least. Here again some folks say 10 others say 15 and some old timers will tell you 20 minutes for submerging but 15 minutes is the average so lets go with it shall we?
Moving right along we are just about done. Its time to remove the jars from the still cooling water on the stove. Mom used to grab them by hand while personally i prefer using a small dishtowel, making sure you have a firm grip on each jar too. NOTE: if you had more jars than your pot could hold in 1 row you need to repeat the process making sure each jar has a full boil. Now that the jars have been removed, place them on the counter to cool them overnight. Next day, open the jars, check the rings to be sure they will properly seal and are not torn. When you re-install the lids to the rings you should hear a sucking noise as you seal the jar as tight as you can. NOTE: IF you pop the lid up and down while its sealed and you hear a popping sound then its NOT properly sealed and you will have to re-seal it again. Then you're good to go, put these jars in a safe dark place, a fruit cellar if you have one is good too. WAIT at least 48 hours. for curing and you have a delicacy that will last up to 18 months if left cool. Its so good my mouth is watering just thinking about it. ENJOY folks.
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