That was my first, and only, pickling experience. Since we moved last summer into our first house, I now have a yard and a garden. I have wonderful crops of zucchini, tomatoes and cucumbers. We have so many cucumbers that we cannot keep up with eating them so I thought that I would try pickling.
I don't normally post about food I cook unless it is related to another bigger project like a party I'm doing a lot of crafts for. I used to run a cooking blog, ChemEats, but haven't posted there in years. This adventure into pickling feels very crafty to me, and I wanted to make sure I recorded it to have notes to look back on in case it is a success... or failure. If there is anyone who understands sterile technique it is someone with a PhD in biochemistry whose dissertation involved a lot of microbiology work!
The recipe I found for sweet pickle relish calls for 1 cup of chopped red bell pepper and 1 cup chopped of green bell pepper. I'm bummed that my sweet peppers aren't ripe yet so I decided to just use a red and yellow bell pepper that I purchased from the store.
Turns out the drought conditions (90 degree weather, watering intensely once a day) created some bitter cucumbers. I was able to remove most of the bitter portions (closet to the stems) and then keep the tasty sweet cucs. I was really frustrated for a while trying to figure out if my cucumbers were rotten. I'm so glad that the majority of the fruit was usable.
I had just shy of 2 cups of apple cider vinegar so I topped off the last 1/8 a cup or so with white vinegar. Similarly, I only had just over 2.5 cups of white sugar. Why am I running out of everything? I hope this isn't completely botched.
This is my first time canning anything for preservation. I found some resources on sterilizing jars and other tips for canning. Even though the processing time for this project was 10 minutes, I did sterilize the jars in advance. (I am close to sea level so I did not have to add additional time.) I successfully sterilized the jars before hand. With the tools it was easy to fill the jars and the seal them in a water bath. I really really hope that I don't poison anyone with this recipe.
I filled 4 - 8 oz jars with relish. Like the tip, I filled jars using a slotted spoon and then added liquid to the appropriate head space height (1/4" for this recipe.) I have a TON of the vinegar mixture left over. I think that I might use it for some refrigerator pickles. (Grandmama gave me some cucumbers from her garden - I might add them straight to the brine in my left over jars and refrigerate them) I even added some extra cucumbers to the recipe! I'm glad to know that I can absolutely reduce the amount of liquid if I'm going to do one batch of veggies. I am amazed by how much the vegetable shrunk. Even the refrigerator pickles shrunk a bunch after they soaked in the brine, probably since I didn't take the time to pre-salt them.
Now I have no idea how long I need to wait before trying to eat the pickles. It looks like it could be ready to eat the relish in a few weeks or a month. The refrigerator pickles I started eating the next day. Yum!
Whoops! I forgot to add the pickle crisps to my relish! I had planned to add a pinch (I actually have a measuring spoon labeled "pinch"!) of the pellets to each jar before boiling them. Oh well.
Waiting is going to be so hard. I can't believe that I have to wait 24 hours now that I've sealed the jars before I can touch them and finishing tightening the lid! Well hopefully sealed. I did hear a pop when one of the jars just came out of the bath so hopefully that's a good sign. I didn't do a good job getting the air bubbles out, hopefully that won't hurt me....
24 hours after canning, I tightened the lids all the way. One of the four lids went pop. Maybe the inner lid wasn't centered enough so when I tightened the screw cap it popped the seal pop. Oh well. I put this batch of relish in the fridge and after some weeks have passed we'll test it out.
A few weeks later (8/22) we opened up the refrigerated batch of relish and it was delicious! The brine was a little sweet but there was still some good crisp to the pickled veggies. I think that my next pickling adventure will require some spice and a little less sugar.
Please share your favorite pickling recipes with me. What other veggies do you like to pickle? I think next year I will have to expand my garden so I can preserve even more food!