We are still in the awkward season in the Hammock. Mornings in the 40s last week, highs in the 70s this week. Boots to flip flops and back again. I used to blame the indecision on January only, until this year. February is shaping up, with a couple of hours reading in beach chairs today but who knows what tomorrow will bring. There’s still time to crank out some pickle relish in anticipation of spring and summer evenings around the firepit.
I’m not sure why I’d been thinking about pickle relish. I’ve never even bought the stuff let alone made my own relish. Never-the-less, it seemed a very logical thing to have on hand, for use with cheeses, deviled eggs, tuna and potato salads, or of course, hot dogs. Our little Asian Market always had pickling cucumbers at their customary low prices, so why not buy some and try my hand at pickle relish?
While perusing the internet for recipes (Did you know that “perusing” means looking at something in detail?–Everyone got the answer wrong at trivia last week–we thought it meant skim.), a comment was left regarding others’ comments about how they had changed the recipe and why couldn’t people just comment on the recipe as given. My answer? It’s a cook’s nature to make a recipe his or her own.
My recipe is based on a Sweet and Spicy Pickle Relish Recipe by Marisa McClellan that you can find at Serious Eats. It is just enough spicy as I substituted a fresh jalapeño for the chili flakes. I made some other additions and changes and I think it is perfect–not that I’m biased or anything.
Preparing the cucumbers brought back a funny memory. One of our sons loved the “innards” or seeds of cucumbers. He didn’t care for the Greek salads that I made, but he considered those a real treat. It was made all the more memorable because those were the days when his diet consisted of 7 glasses of milk a day. Hard to believe that cucumbers contain any nutrition as they are the vegetable that contains the most water (another fact from trivia night) but they have many vitamins and minerals, so I guess they helped keep him healthy during those challenging times.
Sweet and Only a Tiny Bit Spicy Pickle Relish
1 Cup diced green pepper
1 Cup diced red pepper
4 Cups pickling cucumbers (about 9 small) skin left on, seeds removed, finely diced
1 Cup finely diced onion
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and veins removed, finely chopped
2 Cups vinegar, divided
1 Cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- Combine the prepared peppers, cucumber and onion in a large stainless steel or enamel-coated pot. Stir in one cup of apple cider vinegar and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have cooked down and the liquid is reduced by about 1/3. This should take about 30 minutes. Drain the liquid, and return the vegetables to the pot.
- Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining 1 Cup vinegar and add it to the vegetables with the sugar and the spices. Bring it to a simmer and cook for five minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Fill 5 to 6 jars, depending on their size and seal.
- This keeps in the refrigerator for several weeks. If you are handy with canning and want to store this in your pantry, the directions are as follows. To be honest, the amount of vinegar would probably keep these safe without canning, but here you go:
- Fill mason jars, wipe rims, apply lids and rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes (starting time when pot returns to a boil). Remove jars from pot and let cool on a towel-lined countertop.
There was another jar, but I’ve already finished eating it! Even with the Hammock winter to spring sniffles, it made me feel good.