Sweet Pickle Relish

Both Joe and I grew up using sweet pickle relish in our tuna, elbow macaroni and egg salads so when I looked for it in Mi Comisariato and saw the price I decided that I needed to learn how to make some from scratch. Cucumbers and onions are inexpensive here and how hard could it be to chop them up, add some sugar and vinegar?

Well, not hard at all. Here is my recipe:

Sweet Pickle Relish

  • 8- 10 medium-sized cucumbers
  • 2 medium red onions
  • 2 large green or red peppers (red peppers look nicer in the jar)
  • 1/4 cup of sea salt

Peel and de-seed cucumbers, de-seed peppers and put in food processor, I used the disk that shreds this time and it gave it more of a texture instead of using the chopper which made it very fine.  Chop the onion. Add 1/4 cup of sea salt, please do not use the salt that has fluoride in it.  Add cold water to cover all ingredients and set aside for 2 hours.

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Next make the pickling base:

  • 2 cups of white vinegar
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

in a large pot add the above 5 ingredients bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved.

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Now take your cucumber mixture and drain and squeeze moisture out and add to sugar mixture bringing back to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

 

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Clean and disinfect about 7 pint jars and lids. Fill jars, clean rims and put on lids. In a large pot half filled with boiling water place all jars and bring water back to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water bath and let cool covered with a dish towel out of a draft.  The lids should pop and be slightly indented, if they are not refrigerate and use within two weeks.

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Joe wants to know, “Now, where’s the hot dogs and mustard!”

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Sauerkraut

Another one of my favorite ingredients, sauerkraut, is something you can not find canned here. I have seen it in specialty stores in Guayaquil for over $5 a large jar. So again I have taken it upon myself to make my own.

It is the easiest recipe of everything I have ever done because it has only two ingredients, fresh cabbage and sea salt. That’s it.

First thing I did was purchase a wonderful large enamel pot with a lid. Not easy to find and not cheap but I did find it in a small store in Bahia de Caraquez. It would also work with a crock or large glass container best if it had a cover but use your imagination to cover it. Do not use a plastic container, it could leach into your sauerkraut or vice versa. Clean the container and set aside.

IMG_2359Sauerkraut (this recipe will make 6-8 quart sized jars)

  • 2 large heads of cabbage, cleaned, core removed and quartered
  • 1/4 cup of course or sea salt

Shred your cabbage in a food processor using the disk that has only one large blade. This will cut your cabbage into nice thin strips just right for any sauerkraut dish. Place the cabbage in the processor cut side on the blade. If you do not have a food processor use a sharp knife and slice into thin strips. This of course will take some time. It is much easier with a food processor so if you do not have one ask one of your neighbors if you can use theirs.

With each batch of cabbage you remove from the food processor sprinkle a half teaspoon of sea salt over the shredded cabbage. Continue layering until you have used all the cabbage. Now is the time to get your hands into this and massage the cabbage to release some of it’s juices. Pack the cabbage tightly into the container. Using a plate upside down with a weight on top (I use my heavy mortar from my mortar and pestle to weight the cabbage down). Cover with the lid and clean dishtowel. Look at it after about 1 hour, thoroughly wash your hands and arms because you really need to get into this cabbage and massage it again – do this a few times over the next several hours. You should see a dramatic change in the packing down of the cabbage, it should wilt a bit and when pressed down will take less room in your container and you should start seeing liquid at the bottom. Press down hard with all your weight, I do this with the container on the floor to get more weight behind it.(none of you make a joke about the weight behind me). hee hee

Cover and set it in a cool place, out of the sun. I put it under my sink because every time I go to the sink which is 50 times I day I can smell the cabbage and pay more attention to it that way. Over the next 2 weeks, check the cabbage each day, if there is a foamy scum on top clean it off and repack the cabbage. After about 5 days taste the cabbage for a flavor change, it should start to taste like sauerkraut and not fresh cabbage. It should get limp and create a nice liquid, with a tart bite to it. If it tastes right to you at this point you should can. Always use clean, disinfected jars and lids. This is where I add a few sprinkles of caraway seeds – not necessary – just like that bit of flavor. Place in a canning jar water bath. Boil for 10-20 minutes, bring out and cover with a dry dishtowel. Over the next several hours you should hear the jars pop, the lids should be concave after several hours or the next day. If the lid is not concave place in the refrigerator and use within a few weeks.

Over the next month or so I will share some of my recipes that use this sauerkraut, I even have a recipe for a sauerkraut chocolate cake, yes you heard me right. .

 

All Things Jalapeño

Tuesday while shopping in Mi Comisariato I found fresh green jalapeño peppers. That may not sound like a big deal to you but they are not often available so I picked up a big bag and yesterday I pickle some of those beauties as well as made my special Hot Pepper Jelly.

San Clemente 8.29.2013 002What I ended up with was two jars of pickled peppers, five jars of Hot Pepper Jelly (one has already been given to a friend) and one container of Jalapeño Pepper Sauce especially for Joe.  I have kept some seeds for planting and have some drying for hot pepper flake.

San Clemente 8.29.2013 003Hot Pepper Jelly

  • 6 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeños seeded
  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper seeded
  • 1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (I used 1 cup white vinegar & 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 t butter (this stops the foam from forming on the top of your jelly)
  • 1 box Sure-Jell (thanks to Susan & Jimmy for bringing this from the states for me) or 1 bottle of Certo
  • green or red food coloring (optional – the peppers turn an unappealing color when heated so this brightens it up)

Clean and sterilize your jars first. Set aside on a clean dish towel. Clean and seed your peppers and chop very fine (I use a food processor for this step), then add to a large pot with the sugar, vinegar and butter. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil for one minute, lower the heat to a simmer for 5 minutes.

If using Sure-Jell: In a small saucepan add 3/4 cup of water and the box of Sure-Jell using a whisk mix well and simmer gently until dissolved.

If using Certo: It is already a liquid, just add the bottle to the mixture.

Add to the pepper mixture along with several drops of food coloring.  Stir for a minute or two and turn off heat. Pour into sterilized jars, clean rim of jar of any drips, cap and allow to cool before refrigerating.

Serve with cream cheese on crackers.

San Clemente 8,29a.2013 005 Enjoy!

Peter Piper Picked a Peck….

This weeks treasure on the produce trucks and carts were these beautiful yellow-orange peppers.

I also found some small cucumbers at the Charapoto market last weekend so I made Bread & Butter pickles but using Splenda instead of sugar. I did not hold much hope that they would not have an awful aftertaste but they actually are pretty good. Then I made Garlic Pickle Spears especially for Joe. Very good indeed! My Grandmother Kielar would be proud.

From left to right, Pickled Hot Peppers in a Fruit Vinegar, Bread & Butter Pickles with Splenda and Refrigerator Garlic Dill Spears. Notice I am reusing jars. I have not been able to find canning jars anywhere on my travels around Ecuador.  Caution must be taken to make sure that the jars seal; if not your food can spoil. Yesterdays’ batch of hot peppers could be heard popping hours after they had their hot bath!