This summer has been bountiful. The cucumbers, the honey-dew melon, the pumpkins, sweet potatoes and tomatoes are doing wonderfully due to our unusually warm and wet summer weather. So I am a little over whelmed with the amount of cucumbers that I am getting from the garden this last two weeks. I guess anyone who foolishly plants 9 pickling cucumber plants should plan to make pickles off and on all summer. Making pickles, brined and unbrined was one of my goals for the year. I am lucky to have help and advice from Grandma Powers as she stays with us for a couple of months while recovering from some of her cancer treatments. So today we talked about the best relishes that she had made over the years and I attempted to reproduce this one today and I think the results will prove that just about any one can make sweet pickle relish.
You have two choices to make before really getting to this stage of the relishing making process. Do you want a fine relish like the commercial store-bought kind or do you like your relish on the chunky side. We like to taste our relish in potato salads and on our hot dogs and I love to have chunky relish on my burgers. The other question is how much relish can you and your family really eat over the course of a couple of months. Home made relish does not have the preservatives that you find in the store. To avoid any chance that the relish would mold, I canned my mixture in 1/2 pint jars. This makes just enough for party food like one or two large batches of potato salad or 6 or 7 hot dogs.
So with 10 1/2 pint jars and about 10 cucumbers 5 inches long, I was ready to think about making the sweet hot dog style relish. In my mother in-laws” Ball Blue Book” ( 29th edition published in 1974) I found this recipe on page 66.
3 quarts chopped cucumbers
1 large red pepper chopped
1 large green pepper chopped
1 med onion chopped….. I actually used 1 and 1/2 med onion
1 quart vinegar ….. I used 3 cups apple cider vinegar and 1 cup white vinegar
1 Tablespoon turmeric
1/2 cup table salt
1 Tablespoon pickle spice
2 teaspoon whole cloves
2 teaspoon whole allspice
2 cinnamon sticks or 1 and 1/2 teaspoons powered cinnamon
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar.
Combine chopped cucumbers, peppers and onions in large bowl. I chopped my cucumbers by hand with the help of a mandolin slicer but many people chop up the vegetables in the food processor for a finer texture. Sprinkle turmeric over chopped vegetables. Dissolve salt in two quarts hot water and pour over mixed veg; let stand 3 or 4 hours. Drain relish and cover with 2 quarts of cold water let stand while preparing jars. Drain a second time when ready to add pickle syrup to veg. Place spices in a cheese cloth bag or a knee-high ladies hose, simmer in a pot of the vinegar and sugar mixture.
After the syrup is boiling hot strain or take out spice bag and pour over veg mixture. Pack boiling hot relish into hot ball jars, leaving 1/8 head space. Add lids and seals to cleaned tops of jars and process 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Makes about 5 quarts of relish. Let mixture rest 24 hours before eating so flavors have time to settle.
I could not help tasting the bit that would not fit in the jars after packing. The result is sweet and tangy with a wonderful crunch and a zip of spice. I can’t wait to taste this in my next batch of Potato salad. I think it has a wonderful burst of flavor. Hope that this gives you ideas for how to use up some of those extra cucumbers from the summer garden. Next time I will be making my mother-in-laws bread and butter pickles and Onion slices. They are my favorite pickle of all time and I love eating them with a fork right out to the jar so keep reading for that one in two weeks or so. Happy eating JoLynn!