Tuesday, August 9, 2011

EASY REFRIGERATOR PICKLES





Cucumbers are like zucchini, once they start to grow in the garden there are so many it is hard to know what to do with them all.  I make a Hot Crock Pickle that has a nice bite, but it takes a week to cure and pack them up.  Then, of course, there are Dill Pickles, Bread and Butter Pickles, Curry Pickles; besides pickles there are seemingly hundreds of cucumber salads and relishes that you can make – the variations are endless.


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If you have a few extra cucumbers and some onions and you want to make a quick pickle that doesn’t need any processing – just sterile jars and space in the refrigerator – this one is a winner. The recipe combines sugar and vinegar that create a tangy, tart flavor, basically a simple Bread and Butter variety.  Give it a try.  I don’t think they will take up space in your refrigerator for too long!




EASY REFRIGERATOR PICKLES

INGREDIENTS

Enough sliced cucumbers to fill up a gallon jar
3 White Onions sliced thin
1 – 2 cups Raw Sugar (depending on your taste)
4 cups Cider Vinegar
1/3 cup Kosher Salt
2 tsp. Mustard Seeds
1 tsp. each Turmeric and White Pepper

DIRECTIONS

Combine sugar and vinegar in small, non-reactive saucepan over low heat. Once sugar is dissolved add spices. Simmer gently, do not boil, for several minutes to meld flavors.

Pack sliced cucumbers and onions tightly into jar; if you do not have a gallon container feel free to use several quart jars. Pour pickling liquid and spices into container leaving 1 to 2 inches (so you can stuff in more cukes!) of head-space. Cap jars.  Reserve any leftover liquid. Let jar(s) sit at room temperature.

Most likely you will discover you have not packed jars fully and the cucumbers and onions will rise leaving more space. Add more of the vegetables to fill, top off with reserved pickling juice and place in refrigerator. I usually hide them in the back and let them rest a few days so the vegetables have time to absorb the pickling flavor. Open and enjoy!



Thursday, August 4, 2011

SWEET CORN RELISH



‘Tis the season for Sweet Corn, and when the corn comes in there is a lot of it. Unfortunately, it does not last forever, and not only because we all cannot get enough of that delicious, buttery corn-on-the-cob, but because the season is short and sweet like our New England summers. Luckily you can enjoy this taste of summer all year long by canning some good, old-fashioned Corn Relish like grandma used to make.

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OK, my gramma did not make corn relish, and neither did my mom. They did, however, make the best Bread and Butter pickles you have ever tasted, even the brine is delicious. If you are a serious pickle lover, like me, you'll just drink that pickle juice right out of the jar. I haven't shared the recipe for my families Bread and Butter Pickles, some recipes must be kept secret; but, my Easy Refrigerator Pickle recipe is close.

Anyway, back to the Corn Relish, making and canning your own is easy. You can do it with basic equipment you probably all ready have in your kitchen. Blanching the corn and stripping the cob of it's kernels can be a bit tedious, but once you get a flow going its not too awful. Beyond that there seem to be hundreds of variations on recipes for corn relish, so it is easy to come up with one that will suit your individual taste. One thing all the recipes do have in common though is vinegar.

 Thanks to the vinegar in the relish you can finish the jars in a Boiling Water Bath - Pressure Canning not required. Alternatively you can skip the water bath and store the jarred relish right in the refrigerator.  I usually put one or two jars in the fridge for immediate snacking, but the rest get processed and stored on the shelf. I just don't have enough room in the fridge for all those jars!


SWEET CORN RELISH


INGREDIENTS


1 Tbs. Olive Oil

3 3/4 cups diced Red Bell Peppers (3 or 4 peppers)

1 Tbs. Kosher Salt

4 cups fresh Corn kernels

1 3/4 cups diced White Onion or just 1 very large onion

1 1/2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar

1 1/2 cups Raw Sugar

1/2 tsp. dry Mustard

1/2 tsp. ground Turmeric

3 to 5 One Pint Jars


DIRECTIONS

Start with fresh corn on the cob - as fresh as you can get. If there is a delay between harvesting and canning, place corn in the refrigerator or pack it in ice. The sugars break down quickly at room temperature.

Make sure you have sterile jars and lids ready. Whenever I can, I run my jars through the dishwasher while preparing my fruits and vegetables. This not only sterilizes them but keeps them hot until I am ready to pack my food. Otherwise, immerse the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes before filling them. Place the lids and rims in a small pot of almost-but-not-quite boiling water for at least 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to remove them out when you are ready.

Husk the corn and use a soft vegetable brush or a soft washcloth to remove as much silk as possible; just be gentle.

Cut kernels from cob about 2/3 to 3/4 the depth of the kernels. If you do not have a corn-cutting tool, hold the ear by the small end and slide the knife down the ear.





In a large pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the bell peppers, salt, and sauté, stirring until the peppers soften and begin to caramelize, about 12 minutes. Add the corn, stirring to combine, and cook the vegetables until the corn is hot, just 3 or 4 minutes longer.  Turn off the heat and add the onion to the pan; stir well.

If you are going to Hot Water Process your filled jars, you may want to not cook the corn in the pan at all, as it will cook during the sealing process.

In a small non-reactive saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar and turmeric over medium heat and stir just until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Do not boil.

Ladle the corn mixture into the clean 1-pint jars, and pour the warm brine over to cover completely but leave 1/2 inch head-space.

Process the jars 10-15 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath. Otherwise, cover tightly, and let the relish sit at room temperature, so the flavors can marry, for 1 day before storing in the refrigerator.

Refrigerated or Canned, this Corn Relish will keep for up to 1 year, just make sure teh kernels do not rise above the liquid (add a splash of vinegar if necessary).

Not quite sure what to do with all the Corn Relish you just made?  Click here.

Hot Water Bath or Pressure Canning ?