Pickling: Onions, Zukes And Jalapenos

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Yowza! That's the word of the month. A little while back, you wouldn't find me in the kitchen due to how much gardening I had to do. (Not to mention the big event that has now come and gone.) I took every shortcut and pulled out all my tricks for lots of quick meals since time was too precious to waste. But now that things have settled down, the plants are busy doing their growing thing and the next event is a few weeks away, I can relax and enjoy being inside again. I decide it's time to find a few new recipes to tackle since I have a booming garden and meals are practically free. Makes the homesteader in me very proud. I take a (leisurely) stroll in my garden and see this:

never ending story

Zucchini and lots of it. Not to mention four bushes packed with ready-to-go jalapenos, buckets of red and yellow onions, a basket full of crookneck squash, plums just falling off the tree and Swiss chard to last for days and days. Looks like I have some canning to do. Like I said before, yowza.

I'm in full "put 'em up" mode, so I think for this post I'll concentrate on pickling. We love anything pickled. And you can't get through summertime and barbecuing without them. At least I can't. The plums will become jammy, so that's easy. And I'll just blanch the chard, portion it out for soups and stews, and then freeze it for later. And so that brings us to the squash, peppers and onions.

Peppery/Garlicky Zucchini Pickles

you don't mess with the zukes

Enough sliced zucchini to fill 7 pint jars
4 cups water
3 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup canning/pickling salt
Thick-sliced or whole cloves of garlic
Crushed red pepper
Black peppercorns

Sterilize your jars and pack each one with zucchini, several garlic cloves (per jar), a dash or two of crushed red pepper (per jar) and a dash or two of black peppercorns (per jar).

In the mean time, heat the water, vinegar and salt to a simmer and stir occasionally (you want the salt to dissolve). Then pour the mixture over the zucchini to fill it to 1/2 inch headspace. Use the water bath method for canning (see the main canning page) for 10 minutes. Let the zukes develop flavor over the next 4-6 weeks before diving in. Or, simply pop them into the fridge and wait a month.

This originates from a pickled cucumber recipe (here) that called for apple cider vinegar (which I kinda like but not as much as basic white vinegar) so I switched it. But I always put a bit less because it's strong. That's why this only makes 7 pints. The original recipe also called for dill seed (not available so I left it out) but I do plan to try some of the fresh dill I'm growing at some point in the future.

Easy Pickled Jalapenos

o, me like!

I have a confession: I actually made only 6 pints of zucchini pickles and switched out one of them for a bunch of jalapeno peppers. I just used the same brine and omitted the spices. I love pickled peppers (on everything!) and they don't need any extra enhancements (in my opinion) other than a clove or two of garlic. Use the instructions above for canning or stick them into the fridge for a month before using. Other peppers that are great for canning include Banana, Hungarian Hot Wax, Poblano, and especially Red Bells. Yum!

Onion Relish

relishing the thought

10 cups onions (I used Ruby onions)
2-1/4 cups white vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons pickling spice*
2 teaspoons canning/pickling salt

Makes 4 pint jars. (Also fills 5 quilted, 12 oz jelly jars and looks really good on your picnic table.)

(Recipe origin: The Canning Granny)

I did exactly what Granny told me and brought all the ingredients to a boil in a large/deep saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. (To can, see the main canning page first.) Fill the jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace and process using the water bath method for 10 minutes. Wait at least a couple of weeks to dive in.

Finally, I threw together another quick relish that turned out just as great. It is almost exactly like the one above but switches out the onions for all the other stuff I had hanging around!

Gimme All You Got Relish

4 cups grated zucchini
4 cups finely chopped red or green bell pepper
1 cup grated crookneck squash
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup grated carrot
2-1/4 cups white vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons pickling spice*
2 teaspoons canning/pickling salt
(I also added about several shakes of red pepper flakes and 1 clove finely minced garlic.)

Makes 4 pint jars. (Also fills 5 quilted, 12 oz jelly jars and looks really good on your picnic table.)

Cook as above, but simmer for an additional 10 minutes; 20 minutes cooking time total. (To can, see the main canning page first.) Fill the jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace and process using the water bath method for 10 minutes. For this one, I'd wait at least 3-4 weeks for the flavors to sink into the veggies.

Wow. Did I miss my kitchen or what? It's really good to be back inside again. And the timing couldn't be more perfect with tomatoes, cayenne peppers, cucumbers, bell peppers, potatoes, green beans and corn - all within several days of readiness. And chard. More chard. Oh yeah, squash, hot peppers, onions and plums too. Still got lots of 'em. (searching for more recipes...)

*Pickling spice

spice 'o life

To make, add equal amounts of yellow and brown mustard seed, celery seed and dill seed; with a light dusting of ground ginger and allspice.

Tip: As with any pickling recipe, cook your brine/relish in a non-reactive pot or pan.

Tip: By all means, use that Cuisinart or Kitchenaid attachment when making relish. That's a lot of work for such a simple recipe.

Tip: For any kind of pickling, try to use wide-mouth jars to make your life a bit easier. Wide openings for pickles help you put that sandwich together much faster (struggle-free, fork and finger friendly) and a wide-mouth makes it easier to spoon out the biggest dollop of relish you've ever had (and you can get that hot dog in your mouth in record time).


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