Relish, Pickle, Replenish: It’s Cucumber Day

2 August, 2012
Last year’s Adventures in Canning were incredibly successful. The Chai Tea Jelly, Strawberry Jam, Lemon Balm & Lemon Verbena Jelly and Spiced Blueberry Port Jam we canned last Summer, Labeled in the Fall, and Decorated in the Winter were a big hit. We used tons of those jams and jellies in the house. And, we delivered many more to family and friends as holiday gifts. Likewise, the pickles, relishes and mustards we made on our Day in Condiments were a huge success. In fact, by the time the holidays rolled around, we barely had any of our famous condiments to share with others. The moment we popped that lid off of the last jar of relish (and everyone said that moment came too soon!), the kids starting dreaming and scheming out loud about “cucumber season,” of all things!!!

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Well, the farmer’s markets are finally full-to-the-brim with local Ontario cucumbers, onions, peppers, and fresh garlic! And this summer, we decided that instead of a spending a single marathon day of condiment making, we’d stock up our pantry by taking it one step at a time. So, we started off our Adventures in Canning with a day of kid-tested and -approved “cucumber” condiments: our famous Bread & Butter Pickles and our Sweet & Tangy Relish. This time, made a double batch!

Our day in a nutshell: In the morning, we were up and chopping our veggies, and setting them in salt and water or ice to brine. As the kids waited for our chopped veggies, they designed abstract artwork to use as the background to the canning labels for pickles and relish that we’ll make a bit later on. (See our new Glam Cans 2012 post for pics of the artists at work and their final designs!)  Then, it was back to work with the boiling vats of vinegar and spices and the “cauldron” – our giant canning pot.

Newer, More Flexible Recipes and a Gallery of Choice Photos follow!

20120802-192010.jpgBread & Butter Pickles
(makes 7-500ml jars, or 7 pints)

Ingredients
16 c sliced (1/4in) pickling cucumbers
8c (5-6 large) sweet white onions, sliced
.3 c pickling salt
8 cloves garlic, smashed or quartered
4 c sugar (if mixed, in a ratio of no more than 3 c brown to 1 c white to all white)
4 c cider vinegar
2-3 tbs mustard seed
1 tbs tumeric
2 tsp – 1 tbs celery seed

Method
Slice all of your veggies! This takes time! Turn on the music and have fun!
In a large bowl or stock pot, mix cucumbers, onions, garlic, and pickling salt.
Place a thick layer of crushed ice over the top of the veggies.
Cover the pot and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours and no more than 4×4 hours.

Fill your canning pot with water and bring the water to a boil. This will take a while.
Place 8 pint-sized mason jars (or the equivalent) on a canning rack set inside the pot to sterilize and warm.
Meanwhile, warm the canning lids (but not the screw tops – we stack ours aside on a meat cleaver) in a small pot of water set upon your smallest burner.
Remove hot jars from the boiling water with tongs or the like and set upside-down to dry.
Keep that canning pot of water boiling.

Drain the veggie mixture in a colander (rinse if you’d like) and set aside.
In a large stock pot, combine sugar, vinegar, seeds and spices.
Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, just until sugar dissolves.
Add the veggie mixture to the pot, careful not to splatter.
Bring the mixture back to a boil and then remove the pot from the heat.

Using a ladle and a canning funnel, fill your hot pint jars with the hot veggies and liquid, leaving .5-in headspace at the top of the jar (ie fill the jar with veg and hot vinegar to .5 in below the very top of the glass jar).
Place warm lids on jars and attach the screw tops so that they are closed but not ridiculously lock-tight.
Place the filled jars in a rack in the boiling water of your canning pot.
Cover the canner and bring the water back to a boil.
Process in the boiling water for 10 minutes.
Remove the jars and set aside to cool on wire racks or a surface that isn’t heat sensitive.
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20120802-191929.jpgSweet & Tangy Pickle Relish
(makes 8 or 9-250ml jars, or 8 or 9 half-pints)

Ingredients
6 c finely chopped pickling or fresh cucumbers
3 c finely chopped onion (3-4 large)
3 c finely chopped red, orange, and/or yellow sweet peppers
.25 c pickling salt
3 c sugar (if mixed, in a ratio of no more than 1.5 c brown to 1.5 c white to all white)
3 c cider vinegar
2 tbs mustard seeds
1 tbs celery seeds
2-3 tsp tumeric

Method
Finely chop your cucumbers, onions, and peppers. You may want to use a food processor to get a nice dice, but be careful not to overprocess your veg into mush.
In a large glass, ceramic or melamine bowl, combine chopped veggies with pickling salt just to coat.
Add cold water to the mixture by the .5 cup just to cover.
Cover and set aside on a counter for about 2 hours – just long enough for a movie.

Fill your canning pot with water and bring the water to a boil. Again, this takes a while.
Place 8 250ml (half-pint) jars on a canning rack set inside the pot to sterilize and warm.
Meanwhile, warm the canning lids (but not the screw tops – we stack ours aside on a meat cleaver) in a small pot of water set upon your smallest burner.
Remove hot jars from the boiling water with tongs or the like and set upside-down to dry.
Keep that canning pot of water boiling.

Drain the veggies in a colander.
Rinse with cold water and allow to drain again.
In a large stainless or enamel pot, combine sugar, vinegar, seeds and spices.
Boil and stir occasionally until the sugar dissolves.
Add the veggie mix to the pot, being careful not to splatter.
Reurn the mixture to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.
At this point, most of the “excess” liquid will have evaporated and your relish will look like relish.

Use a ladle and a canning funnel to fill your hot jars with the hot relish.
Leave .5-in headspace at the top of the jar (ie fill the jar with relish to .5 in below the very top of the glass jar).
Place warm lids on jars and attach the screw tops so that they are closed but not ridiculously lock-tight.
Place the filled jars in a rack in the boiling water of your canning pot.
Cover the canner and bring the water back to a boil.
Process in the boiling water for 10 minutes.
Remove the jars and set them aside to cool.

The Prep:
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Vinegar, Spices, & Jars:
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…Looking ahead to our Adventures in Canning 2012: Mustards, old and new, will follow next week. And jams and jellies with have both a summer week-day and a fall (or Lunchbox Season) appearance. We’ll also spread our wings where pickles and relish are concerned a bit later on, tackling Alt.-Fall Veggies in our 2012-13 Lunchbox Season.
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