Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sweet Pickle Relish

This is my next favorite thing to make with pickling cucumbers, preferably the ones that "get away" and turn into behemoths that are no good for making dill pickles from. This is a sweet relish, not a spicy, dill, sour relish, and I've had comments from folks who state while they don't like relish, they really like this. My parents like to eat it out of the jar, but you don't have to go with that. It's delicious on anything you put relish on - hotdogs, burgers, or even to make tartar sauce from. It's not the neon green goo you get from a bottle, that's for sure!

I use a recipe I found on, and use the automatic calculator to determine my ingredients based on how many cups of cucumbers I end up with after I grind them (more on that in a bit). Here's the recipe:

For the eight pints I did, the recipe is as follows (it's actually set for "7 pints" but I got 8 out).

  • 9 1/3 cups cucumbers, deseeded and chopped
  • 4 2/3 cups onions, chopped
  • 2 1/3 cups green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 1/3 cups red bell pepper, chopped
  • 5/8 cup kosher salt
  • 8 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 2/3 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 1/3 tablespoons celery seed
  • 2 1/3 tablespoons mustard seeds

First set is making sure you got the goods around. Not to difficult for the brine part - canning salt (never used iodized salt for canning, use clearly labeled canning salt), apple cider vinegar, sugar, celery seed and mustard seed.

Your hardware will be a couple of big bowls, a food processor, cheesecloth, measuring "stuff" (cups, spoons etc), a BIG pot, a waterbath canner, tongs to remove hot jars, a colander, a knife, and canning jars, lids and rings.

 The vegetable victims - cucumbers of any type, preferably the ones that got too big for any other use, bell peppers - I go with half green and half yellow/red/orange, and onions. Nothing fancy - I just use regular yellow/white onions.
 The best friend of this recipe - a food processor. I've had this thing for a long time. It has many quirks (like that nifty dial that is supposed to be speed, it doesn't work. We have two speeds, stop and go. "Go" operates when I engage the lock on the lid, regardless of setting (including if the setting is "off"). Yes, that is duct tape on it. No questions please... :)
 To start, take your cucumber. This is a massively overgrown pickling cucumber, one that I missed a few times apparently while harvesting for dill pickles.
 Cut it in half, and use a spoon to slice the seeds out. It doesn't need to be pretty, just get them out.
 Chop up the cucumber. Now, I usually go and deseed all of the cucumbers and then go all Iron Chef on them and chop them all at the same time. Only reason I chop is I can get them into the processor easier :)
 Into the processor they go!
 Process them for a few seconds on high (the only speed I have), until they are all chopped up. You don't want a puree, but you don't want big chunks. Think about the size of the relish chunks in commercial relish, that's what you're aiming for. If they are too big or small, well, it's ok. It will taste so good, no one will notice!
Now stop! THIS is the step you find out how to set the recipe above to make sure you get the right amounts. The cucumbers are usually my limiting ingredient, so at this point, measure them and then fiddle with the number of pints for the recipe link. If you are between pints, go up a pint for the recipe. I ended up with 9 cups of chopped cucumber, and the 7 pint adjustment was just right.
 Since I now know how many peppers I need, I start running them through processor. In total you'll pretty much aim for 1/4 of green and 1/4 of colored peppers to the number of cucumbers. Too much math? just follow the recipe :) You'll want to wash your pepper and chop the same way as you did the cucumbers.
 As you did to the peppers, so you do to the onions. These are about 1/2  to the amount of cucumbers. Cut off the ends and the skin, and  into the processor they go. Watch for tears. I hate this part. Even if you aren't an onion fan, do try the recipe as written at least once. These will mellow and make a fantastic flavor when it's all together.  I had to put my onions in my big pot because the bowl was too full.
 Dump all the veggies into a very large vessel - I use my big pot. Mix it all up thoroughly. It will be pretty juicy :) Add the salt for the recipe and mix that in as well.
 Split the veggies into a HUGE bowl, or what I have, two bowls.
 Add cold water to the veggies for a nice soupy consistency. The goods need to sit for a minimum of two hours.
I'm missing the picture of the next step - after soaking the veggies, line a colander with cheesecloth and drain them well - an hour or so. This will make sure you get lots of yummy relish sauce, and not runny veggie juice.

Also missing in this is preparing your jars. I like to use pint jars - regular or widemouth. Clean them well - run them through a dishwasher if you have one (I don't, boo hoo! :( ). Make sure your lids and rings are ready.

Place the vinegar, sugar, celery seed and mustard seed in your big pot. It will seem like a LOT of sugar, but remember, relish is a condiment not a meal (my parents forget this). Stir it regularly, and bring it to a boil.
 Add all of the well drained veggies to the sugar/spice/vinegar mix, and stir well.
 Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to let it simmer for 10 minutes. I was being assisted at this point by a small child, so no pictures of me ladling the relish into jars using a funnel, but I believe I have pictures of the funnel in the dill pickle blog. Use a slotted spoon to ladle your relish out, otherwise it will be too soupy.
 Once you get a couple pints of relish ladled out, you can dump the rest into a colander and drain it to get mostly relish and not so much "soup". Fill the jars to 1" from the top with relish, and then use a regular ladle to fill to 1/2" from the top with the brine.
Wipe the rims of the jars off with a clean paper towel, and then put their lids and rings on. Put into a water bath canner of hot water, and bring to a boil. Cover and set the time for 15 minutes (unless you live in those mountain regions, then follow whatever the guidelines are for water bath canning.) Remove, set on a towel and allow to cool. The lids should "pop" down after they cool, which means they've sealed. If they don't seal, either reprocess them in the waterbath with a new lid, or just put the jar in the fridge and use it in a couple weeks :)
 Enjoy! These will last easily over a year if kept in a cool, dry area. Always discard if the lid pops up meaning it's lost it's seal - that is due to growing yuckies :)


Monday's Child said...

Do you have any idea how many of your posts I have marked to come back and try? I love the stuff you share! <3

Jen said...

Aw, thanks! I find I really like to do this - a lot of people want to learn how to do "home stuff", and it's just not around anymore - thought it's GOOD!! :)

I have more photo blogs planned, doing Sauerkraut and Stewed Tomatoes today, and possibly Grape Jelly.

Judith Dolliver said...

Awesome! Been wondering what to do with my giant cukes!! Can't wait to try this recipe today...AND to look up some of your other recipes. I'm a "Redneck" too, so really enjoyed your presentation. Thanks so much.