Cucumber assault, and pickling, continue!

July 15, 2017

Six pints of pickle relish ought to be plenty, at least until I taste it.

Assault of the cucumbers continues unabated, so I made an attempt to work my way through some of them today.

I thought I’d given this latest harvest, some 10 pounds of cucumbers, away, but in the haste and hustle to get us and all the needed accoutrements out to AGC 2’s birthday party last night (A fine time was had by all; icing was smeared liberally, much juice was consumed, and gift bags were ripped asunder with glee), I failed to put them outside for my friend to pick up. So I’ve still got these:

The garden that keeps on giving.

As well as about twice that many that I picked today. I’ve decided I’m going to try to make the classic half-sours, a fermented pickle, with the rest, and maybe a quick batch of cucumber salad. And then I’ll start trying to give them away again, because, y’know what? The zucchini are about to start up.

Anyway, today, I made pickle relish. I use a fair amount of pickle relish in cooking, in potato salad, tuna salad, deviled eggs, and so on. And I will from time to time put it on a burger or a hot dog, on the rare occasion I eat hot dogs. Normally, I get the commercial jarred stuff from Kroger, but I thought to myself, “Self, you reckon we could make our own?” And Self said, “Well, it might not be fit to eat, but we could give it a whirl.” So we did.

Self and I betook ourselves to the Interwebs, where live ninety bajillion recipes for everything you might ever consider cooking, freezing or preserving in any shape, form or fashion. And we found the Serious Eats recipe for sweet pickle relish. And we got an idea what people put in such stuff, so we set out pretty much on our own to make some and see how it worked.

We wound up using a big double handful of sweet Cubanelle peppers (I do not, as you recall, countenance bell peppers in much of anything, and I didn’t want hot peppers); two good-sized onions; and what wound up being about 8-10 cups of grated cucumbers. My plan had been to use a brine with 4 cups of vinegar, 4 cups of water, 2 cups sugar and 4 tbsp pickling spice.

Bear in mind that cucumbers are mostly water. And when you grate the little beasties, there’s LOTS of water released. So I wound up with just the 4 cups of vinegar and the sugar and 4 tbsp of pickling spice, and let the cucumbers provide their own water, the lazy sonsaguns.

I had previously run my jars through the dishwasher on a day I was going to make pickles, but didn’t, so I just steam-sterilized them on a cookie sheet lined with a wet dishtowel in the oven. Brought the cucumber-pepper-onion combo to boil in the brine, packed it into the steaming hot jars, and sealed. Doing it that way means I didn’t have to fool with “canning” them in the water bath, which suited me fine.

So now we have pickled the following kinds of cucumbers out of the garden:

  • Bread and butter pickles
  • Horseradish pickles
  • Sweet hot pickles
  • Salty sour pickles, aka Grandpa pickles
  • Sweet pickle relish
  • And we still have sweet lime pickles left from last year.

The remaining crop of cucumbers, I think I’m going to make up as classic fermented half sours, the kind you get in the deli in New York in the big jar. I used the bigger ones today to grate  up, and most of those remaining will be about the right size to stick down in a big jar and let ferment in some brine with garlic, dill, peppercorns and some coriander seed.

If you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em need some cucumbers, or are needing to make up a relish tray for a pot luck dinner or a party, you need to come see me.

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2 Responses to “Cucumber assault, and pickling, continue!”

  1. carolee Says:

    Horseradish pickles? My hubbie loves horseradish, and I have a big bag of cucumbers, so guess I’ll give that a google search. Thanks for the suggestion. I have made bread & butter pickles, dill pickle spears and chunks, and sweet pickles so far. Still have relish left from last season, but I may make 1 batch later on. Thanks for sharing.

  2. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    I use the same brine I use for my relish, and I put a tablespoon of kosher salt, a quarter-teaspoon of alum. a couple of peeled garlic cloves, a half-teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and a tablespoon of prepared horseradish in each quart jar, pack it with cucumbers, then pour the boiling brine over them. I process for just about 5 minutes in the water bath, just enough to get things hot enough to seal the jars.


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