My childhood memories of the hot month of August are wrapped in the smells of vinegar and pickling spices. My mother and grandmothers would “put up” their own versions of jams, jellies, and all sorts of pickled delights. While it doesn’t seem to be as much the custom any more, every party, buffet, and holiday meal table held a relish dish of homemade pickled vegetables. Perhaps this is why pickled is still one of my favorite ways to eat vegetables like cauliflower and beets.
I carry on the tradition in my own way. I don’t put up nearly the quantity they did (my mother was known for her manic canning of more than a hundred quarts of home-grown green beans every summer), but I do have my specialties. I’m a bit more experimental with the pickling herbs and spices and tend to like things spicier now than I would have liked as a 10 year-old!
I normally make this from whatever vegetables happen to be overflowing in the garden and the measurements can be subject to some flexibility. I think it's the spices that make for the relative consistency in the relish from year to year.
2-3 cups chopped zucchini or summer squash
1 cup chopped cucumber or 1 cup chopped cabbage (green or red) or a combination
1 cup chopped onion (yellow, red, or white)
1-2 cups chopped sweet pepper (green, red, yellow, or a combination)
2 cups organic sugar or 1 ½ cups honey
3 Tablespoons Himalayan Pink or Red Alea salt
1 – 1 ½ cups organic apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoons organic Celery seed
2 teaspoons organic Brown Mustard seed
1 teaspoon organic whole Allspice
1 teaspoon organic whole Cloves
1 Tablespoon organic Garlic granules or 1 whole bulb fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
Optional: 1 teaspoon organic ground Turmeric
Chop all the vegetables and combine well. Sprinkle with salt and cover with cold water. Let stand for about 2 hours and then drain. I rinse lightly but don’t try to remove all the salty juiciness. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar or honey, vinegar, and all the spices. Bring to a boil and then add the drained vegetables. Stir, turn heat down to medium high, and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Pack the hot relish into hot, sterilized canning jars, leaving about ½ inch of head space at the top of the bottle. I run a knife through to release any air bubbles. Put lids and rings on and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Depending on how you adjust the vegetables, this will make 4-5 pints of relish. Allow to age for 6+ weeks.
Wash well 12 cups of beets. You do not need to peel them if you have tender, young beets, but if the skins are particularly tough or the beets are older, you do. If not peeling, you can slice, dice, or cut into rounds before cooking. Cover over with water and cook until slightly tender. Drain. If peeling, peel whole beets now and then slice, dice, or cut into rounds. Remember to remove the root and stem ends. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, combine:
2 cups organic sugar
2-3 sticks organic Cinnamon
1-2 Tablespoons organic whole Allspice
1-2 teaspoons Coarse Sea salt
1 teaspoon organic whole Peppercorns
1 teaspoon organic whole Cloves
3 ½ cups organic white or apple cider vinegar
1 ½ - 2 cups water
Bring this to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks. Pack the beets into hot, sterilized jars and cover with pickling brine, leaving about ½ inch of room at the top of the jar. Use a knife to remove air bubbles. Put lids and rings on and process about 30 minutes in a hot water bath. This makes about 3-4 quarts or 6-8 pints of pickled beets. Allow to age 6+ weeks before eating.
2 large heads of cauliflower
1 ½ cups chopped or sliced onion (white, red or yellow)
¼ cup Coarse Sea salt, Red Alea salt or Pink Himalayan salt
1-2 cups organic sugar
2 Tablespoons organic Brown or Yellow Mustard Seed
1 Tablespoon organic Celery Seed
1 teaspoon organic Caraway Seed
1-3 dried organic whole Chilies or 1 Tablespoon organic dried Chili Flakes
1 Tablespoon organic Garlic, minced
4 cups organic vinegar (apple cider, red wine or white)
Break cauliflower into little flowerettes and wash well. Combine the cauliflower, onion, and salt well. Cover with a combination of ice and water and let stand for 2-3 hours. Drain and lightly rinse. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large sauce pan and bring to boil. Add the vegetables to the brine and bring back to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or so before packing into hot, sterilized jars. Leave about ½ inch of room at the top of the jar. Put on lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Allow to age for 6+ weeks before eating.
Dill Pickled Green Beans
I don’t have the patience or dedication to pressure can green beans like my mother did. Any extras from the heirloom varieties we grow in our garden either get blanched and frozen, or made into scrumptious pickled spears. These are wonderful for munching, adding to a salad, or as a delicious garnish for a Bloody Mary.
2 pounds or so of fresh green beans with the ends removed (but left whole).
1/3 cup Kiawe Smoked Sea salt or Pink Himalayan salt
2 ½ cups organic vinegar (white or apple cider)
2 ½ cups water
4 cloves fresh organic garlic, peeled, but left whole or 4 teaspoons organic Garlic granules
4 heads fresh dill or 4 teaspoons organic Dill Seed
1 teaspoon organic Chili Flakes
Wash trimmed green beans and drain. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water, and salt into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. In each hot, sterilized pint jar, put one clove of garlic, 1 fresh dill head and a pinch of Chili Flakes or 1 teaspoon Garlic granules, 1 teaspoon Dill seed, and a pinch of Chili Flakes. Arrange the beans lengthwise in the jar (it’s fine if you just pack them in there too) and cover with the vinegar liquid. Leave about ½ inch room at the top of the jar. Put lids and rings on and process in a boiling water bath for about 10 minutes. This makes approximately 4 pints. Allow 6+ weeks aging before eating.
Spicy Fruit Chutney
Like my relish recipe, I tend to adapt this to whatever extra fruits I have on hand. I do try to make it at least once every summer as it’s wonderful to have on hand for special holiday meals or to drizzle over cream cheese and crackers for a quick and easy appetizer.
4 quarts (14-16 cups) peeled, pitted, and chopped fruit such as pears, apples, plums, peaches, nectarines, etc. You can use all one type of fruit, or a combination.
1 cup organic raisins or dried cranberries, optional
2-3 cups organic brown sugar
1 cup chopped onion (white, yellow, red)
2 Tablespoons organic Brown or Yellow Mustard Seed
2 Tablespoons organic ground Ginger powder
1 Tablespoon organic Sea Salt or Pink Himalayan Salt
1 Tablespoon organic Garlic granules
1 Tablespoon organic Chili Flakes or 1 fresh hot chili pepper, chopped (seeds included—use latex gloves for cutting fresh chilies!)
3-4 cups organic apple cider vinegar
Mix all ingredients together in a large stock pot or sauce pan. Simmer on medium high heat until thick and well-combined. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars (I like to use a one cup, handled, glass Pyrex measuring cup for ladling into jars). Leave about ½ inch of head space and use a knife stirred through to remove any air bubbles. Put on lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath about 10 minutes. Makes about 7 pints of chutney.
Easy Dill Pickles
6 pounds of small to medium pickling cucumbers - sliced into spears or rounds (approximately 20 cucumbers)
4 cups organic vinegar, white or apple cider
4 cups water
4 Tablespoons organic Pickling Spice
2 Tablespoons organic Garlic, minced or fresh garlic cloves, peeled
4 Tablespoons organic Sea Salt
Fresh heads of dill or 3 Tablespoons organic Dill seed
In a large pan or pot, bring vinegar, water, and salt to a boil. Meanwhile, mix the Pickling Spice, Garlic, and Dill seed together in a bowl, if using the dried herbs. In each hot, sterilized jar, spoon 1 teaspoon of the mixed spices. If using fresh dill and garlic, put 1 clove of garlic and one dill head in each clean jar and add 1/2- 1 teaspoon Pickling Spice. Pack the cucumbers tightly into the jars and cover over with the hot vinegar liquid. Leave about 1/2 inch of head space. Put the lids and rings on and process in a boiling water bath for about 10 minutes. Makes 8-10 pint jars of pickles.