I pickled the deluge

You may recall that in August I was nearly overtaken by a serious number of cucumbers.  I must admit that I did not keep all 20 pounds of those cucumbers for myself.  But figuring out how to preserve my remaining 12 pounds fast enough to prevent them from becoming mush in my refrigerator, and also to do so in small enough batches -- such that I could finish in a couple hours (between swimming lessons and other toddler-friendly activities) was no small feat.

By the end, I'd made bread and butter pickles, sweet and sour pickle relish, and also tried some Indonesian quick pickles.

Indonesian quick pickles -- shallots, cukes and carrots.

Honestly I'm not a sweet relish person -- dill relish is what I reach for nearly every time.  But occasionally sweet relish is necessary, for variety's sake, on a hot dog or in potato salad.  I decided to see if making my own improved it at all.  Plus, it was a win-win activity: I could get all my vegetables chopped quickly in the food processor and Wyatt could have fun pushing the button to chop them.

The relish turned out better than I expected, especially since some of the vegetables were closer to a mince or chunky puree than a chop (Wyatt does like to press that "pulse" button).  Its taste and texture are infinitely better than sweet relish from the store -- this relish is more tangy, more sour, less sticky, and contains no unidentifiable little red things.

Bear in mind that I have yet to stir it into homemade tarter sauce and try it on a corn dog, which will ultimately determine whether the recipe is a keeper .  .  . but so far we like it a lot.  In case you also would like to put your toddler to work, here's the recipe I made.

Sweet and Sour Pickle Relish
adapted from Sweet Pickle Relish found in Canning and Preserving with Ashley English

About 5 medium pickling cucumbers, washed, ends trimmed, but not peeled
1/2 a large Walla Walla sweet onion
1/2 large green bell pepper
1/2 large red bell pepper
scant 1/4 cup kosher salt

2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tb. yellow mustard seed
1 1/2 Tb. celery seed
1 tsp. tumeric

Chop the cucumbers into small pieces in a food processor and then transfer to a bowl.  Using the food processor also chop the bell peppers and add that to the cucumbers.  Then chop the onion and add it to the other vegetables.  With a wooden spoon, mix the vegetables together thoroughly mix in the salt.  Cover the bowl with a dishtowel and let the mixture sit on the counter overnight (or at least 4 hours).

When ready to make the relish, drain and rinse the vegetables in a fine mesh colander.  Rinse several times and press the vegetables to remove all liquid and salty residue.  Set aside over a bowl.

In a medium non-reactive pot combine the sugar, vinegar, seeds, and tumeric.  Add the vegetables and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce to a summer and cook for 15 minutes more.

Pack the hot relish mixture into sterilized jars, leaving half an inch of space at the top.  If you find that you have excess liquid, simply use a slotted spoon to remove veggies from the brine and pack the veggies into the jars, making sure adequate brine is in each jar.

Remove air bubbles, wipe rims of the jars clean with a damp clean cloth.  Place hot lids on the jars and screw bands only finger-tip tight.  Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Makes 5 or 6 half pints. 


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