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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Sweet Pickle Relish

Every year during the busy canning season I always manage to try a few new recipies. What I'm looking for is a canning recipe that becomes a family favourite or at the very least a tried and true recipe that I will use over and over. If I'm lucky I will discover one or two great recipes each year this way. If I'm not lucky I end up with a dud which is why I only do small test batches for new recipes.

sweet pickle relish no colourNatural

I have a couple of tried and true recipes for sweet pickle relish so I really wanted to try the recipe in the Ball Blue Book to compare to those I know are good. I had serious reservations about the recipe when it said to 'chop' the cucumbers instead of the standard 'run them through the grinder' method but decided to go ahead. The recipe said nothing about seeding the cucumbers either. I made a half batch giving me a yield of 3 - 250 ml jars. Pictured is the sweet pickled relish cooking before any food colouring has been added.

Sweet Pickle Relish
source: Allrista Corporation, Ball Blue Book, 2001. Pp. 50
2 medium cucumbers
1 c chopped onions
½ c sweet green pepper
½ c sweet red pepper
2 tbsp salt
1¾ c sugar
½ tbsp celery seed
½ tbsp mustard seed
1 c cider vinegar

Chop cucumbers, onions and peppers. Combine in large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Cover with water. Let stand 2 hours. Drain, rinse and drain thoroughly. Combine remaining ingredients in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add drained vegetables. Simmer 10 minutes. Pack into hot jars leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe the rims. Adjust two piece lids. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath canner.
Yield: 4 half pints.

sweet pickle relish with colourFood Colour Added

I took one look at the relish and realized it needed food colouring. Now this is not something I like to add to any of my homecanned products but in this case it was necessary. What many don't realize is the relish you buy in the stores gets that lovely green from added food colouring that has first been injected into the cucumbers then added again during processing. That means duplicating this process at home is a bit more difficult.

The work around is to add a few drops of food colouring to make the homemade version look a bit more like the commercial version. I use an all natural vegetable food colouring for this type of application. Notice the difference in the colour!

plumb sauce and sweet pickle relishSweet Pickle Relish

This time of year it is quite common for me to put up two or more products the same day. On Friday I also made another batch of plum sauce. Pictured are 6 jars of plum sauce and 3 jars of the sweet pickle relish. If you have followed this blog you will have seen most pictures of home canned foods with the rings on as in the far left. Also pictured in the far left is the thin white film from water deposits that can occur on jars during canning. This can be prevented by adding white vinegar to the canner water or washing the jars down with white vinegar after canning. Once the rings are removed and the jars cleaned they are ready for storage (centre). Don't store the canned jars with rings on as this can hide false seals.

The far right shows the 3 jars of sweet pickle relish. There aren't many times I will really diss a recipe but this is one of them. I followed this recipe to the "T" shaking my head as I did. The fundamental step of seeding then grinding the cucumbers was left out giving a far less than satisfactory result. The recipe tastes good but it is certainly not what you would expect of a relish. There was no indication that food colouring should be added either so if you didn't know about doing that step visually you would have been a bit unhappy with the results. Overall I am disappointed in this recipe. Yes I have a product on my pantry shelf but it really isn't the 'relish' recipe I anticipated. I would suggest seeding the cucumber then grating or grinding them and definitely add a bit of green vegetable based food colouring!

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