Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Friends and Pickle Relish

I've spent the past two days with my friends Marilyn and Donnelle Simmons of Garden Inspirations in Waxahachie.  We have had such fun!  They decided to have a canning class since they've had a lot of interest, and Marilyn has been canning for years.  In fact, she's had to unlearn some of her apparently bad habits since the canning rules have changed since she was a child.  It was so nice to work with someone who is very comfortable with the processes - she knows how to step back and regroup when the wrong recipe is used and things need to be reworked.  It really takes the anxiety out of it and makes it fun.  We made three kinds of jam (blueberry, blackberry and peach), a pickle relish (that is truly a form of crack) and green beans.  I had never made jam before so I feel like I've learned a new skill.      

The most enjoyable part of all this was having all the other people there.  They are starting a canning club that will meet once or twice a month to put up whatever is in season - what a fantastic idea! 

My concern the past few years has been the lack of food actually grown in north Texas, but there is another component to this....how much do we waste because we don't know what to do with it and it goes bad?                         

We (I included) have become separated from our food supply to the extent that we need someone to tell us that it's safe.  Everyone I've talked to, unless they grew up preserving their own food, seems to feel the same way.  It's a scary thing to be responsible not just for putting a meal on the table, but for the actual safety of the food we're eating.  I have a friend whose father wouldn't eat the eggs from her chickens.  He would buy eggs at the store because the farm eggs were just too....farmy.  I certainly feel blessed to have friends who think nothing of putting up a couple quarts of tomatoes.  I'm learning so much from them.  And I'm really going to enjoy this relish...                          

Sweet Pickle Relish
from The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader                  

Use a boiling water bath canner; yields 9 pint jars

3 quarts cucumbers, chopped
3 cups green bell peppers, seeded & chopped
3 cups red bell peppers, seeded & chopped
1 cup onions, chopped
8 cups water
4 cups ice cubes
3/4 cup salt
4 tsp ground turmeric
4 tsp whole allspice
4 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp whole cloves
6 cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups sugar

Combine the vegetables, water ice and salt in a 12 qt saucepan.  Let stand for 4 hours.  Drain and recover with fresh ice and water for an additional hour.  Drain thoroughly.

Combine the spices in a cheesecloth bag.  Place the spice bag, vinegar and sugar in a stainless steel 4 qt saucepan and heat to boiling.  Pour the vinegar syrup over the vegetables and refrigerate for 24 hours. 

Heat the mixture to boiling and ladle into sterile jars, leaving 1/2" headspace.  Cap and seal.
Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.  Adjust for altitude if necessary. 

No comments: