Thursday, September 24, 2009

Relish & Pickles

Simultaneous feelings of  relief, fatigue and elation wash over me.  During the past few days, I have made thirteen jars of Bread & Butter pickles, eleven jars of the very popular "Family Relish" and eight jars of Dill Pickles.  The pickling process was an autumn ritual in my house as a child, and I enjoy the tradition of it still.  Though the above mentioned quantities are not overly-ambitious, one has to keep in mind that all of the vegetables are lovingly hand chopped, and that our three children have not grasped the concept of family in the name "Family Relish".  Hopefully, one year not too long from now, we will be preparing all together, as I did with my siblings and parents.  In the meantime, it is a fabulous relish, and certainly well worth making - either by oneself or with a group.
The recipe for the "Family Relish" comes from my mother's cookbook, and it is a keeper.     
2 kg ripe tomatoes
20 sweet red & green peppers (in total), seeded & chopped
5 medium onions, chopped
1/2 cup pickling salt
1 hot pepper, seeded and chopped
1 recipe mustard dressing*

1) Peel the tomatoes, squeeze to remove juice and seeds, and chop.
2) Combine sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes, and salt and refrigerate over night.
3) Drain well, add hot pepper and mustard dressing, stir over moderate heat until mixture boils.
4) Simmer until thickened, 10-20 minutes, stirring frequently.
5) Bottle in sterilized jars.  After placing the snap lids and screw bands, I placed the jars in a canning pot water bath with 2" of water above them for 15 minutes. 

Mustard Dressing
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup mustard (dry)
1/2 tbsp. tumeric
1 cup water
4 cups white vinegar
1 tbsp. celery seed
1 tsp. whole cloves
1 tsp. pickling spice

1) Combine dry ingredients until fully mixed, add water, making a smooth paste.
2) Heat vinegar with spices, simmer 10 minutes, strain and discard spices.
3) Stir vinegar into mustard paste, return to heat, stir until mixture comes to a boil.

Variation:  a quick mustard dressing solution is substituting 6 oz. of prepared mustard for the dry mustard, turmeric and spices.

The next self assignment pertains to Fair Trade ingredients, to be continued.

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