Low-Salt Refrigerator Pickles

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In 1986, I was living with my husband and youngest daughter in Blue Jay, Ohio, on the Indiana border.  My husband had a huge garden and lots of cucumbers.  This was one of a long list of recipes for pickles that I used.  I was still working full time and commuting an hour each way, so this one was good because it used a lot of cucumbers and made up quickly.  I could get a batch made up after supper and they could be used within 4-5 days.   This recipe is from my bible at the time – Pickles & Relishes – 150 Recipes – Apples to Zucchini.

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LOW-SALT REFRIGERATOR PICKLES

  • 3 qts thinly sliced cucumbers
  • 3 medium size onions, sliced thinly
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 cups cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp pickling salt (optional)
  • 1-1/3 tsp turmeric
  • 1-1/3 tsp celery seeds
  • 1-1/3 tsp mustard seeds

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Layer cucumbers and onions in a jar, packing tightly.  Combine remaining ingredients and stir to dissolve the sugar.  Pour the syrup over the cucumbers and cover tightly.  Refrigerate for 4-5 days before using.

Keep these pickles refrigerated.  You can add to the mixture whenever you have more cucumbers.

Yield:  3 quarts

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Zucchini Mock Mini-Apple-Ring Pickles

I originally got this recipe in 1983 from my sister-in-law in Somerset, Kentucky.  The recipe called for pickling lime and a total of 27 hours of soaking.  Because of the time-consuming process, I only made them once but thought they were very tasty.

I noticed that Ball makes a Pickle Crisper that is much easier to use and does not require all the soaking time.  I thought I would revise the recipe to make a smaller batch and to use the new Ball product.  This is a much easier process and the pickle is still as tasty as I remembered it from 1983.

ZUCCHINI MOCK MINI-APPLE-RING PICKLES

  • 1 lb. zucchini (1-½ inch diameter)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup white vinegar, 5% acidity
  • 1 Tblsp. plus 1 tsp. pickling salt
  • 2 Tblsp. cinnamon candy red-hots
  • Ball Pickle Crisper (Calcium Chloride) – 1 tsp. for pint, 1/2 tsp for ½-pint, 1/8 tsp for 4 oz. jar

Peel and cut zucchini into ½ inch rings.  Using a paring knife, cut an “X” in the center of each ring and use the tip of the knife to cut out a small circle.

In a large saucepan, place granulated sugar, white vinegar and pickling salt.  Bring to a boil, then stir in the red hot candy pieces, continuing to stir until candy is dissolved.   Add the zucchini slices and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 2 minutes.

Sterilize an 8 oz. and a 4 oz. Mason or Ball jars and lids.  In the 8 oz. jar, place 1/4 tsp. of  Pickle Crisper and in the 4 oz jar, 1/8 tsp of Pickle Crisper.

Ladle in the zucchini and brine to fill jars to within ¼ inch of top edge.  Wipe edges clear and put on lids.

Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

Let pickles cure for at least two weeks before serving.

Yield:  One 8 oz. and one 4 oz. jar


The small jars would make nice hostess gifts and definitely are something a little bit different.  It’s easy to double or triple the recipe if desired.  Just be sure to put the correct amount of Pickle Crisper in the jar, based on the size of the jar.

DOUBLE RECIPE:
2 lbs. zucchini (1-½ inch diameter)
4 cups granulated sugar
2 cups white vinegar, 5% acidity
2 Tblsp. plus 2 tsp. pickling salt
¼ cup cinnamon candy red-hots

Ball Pickle Crisper (Calcium Chloride) – 1 tsp. for pint, 1/2 tsp for ½-pint, 1/8 tsp for 4 oz. jar

TRIPLE RECIPE:
3 lbs. zucchini (1-½ inch diameter)
6 cups granulated sugar
3 cups white vinegar, 5% acidity
¼ cup pickling salt
¼ cup plus 2 Tblsp. cinnamon candy red-hots

Ball Pickle Crisper (Calcium Chloride) – 1 tsp. for pint, 1/2 tsp for ½-pint, 1/8 tsp for 4 oz. jar

This is a good website with information on canning:

http://www.bhg.com/recipes/how-to/preserving-canning/

My Favorite Corn Relish

We’ve had a sensational corn season here in southwest Ohio.  Every week, I drive to my favorite farm market, Blooms and Berries in Loveland, Ohio, and pick up some great bi-color sweet corn.  Many times this summer, my daughter and I have had a supper of corn-on-the-cob, a big tossed salad and some kind of cobbler or Brown Betty made with fresh fruit – now, that says summertime!

Whenever I had an ear of cooked corn left over, I cut it from the cob and put it in a bag in the freezer.  Finally, today I had enough to make my favorite corn relish.  When I was a child in the 1930s-40s, the items I loved the most on the dinner tables of my grandmothers and my great-aunt were the pickles and relishes, and corn relish was my favorite.  This recipe from a book called FANCY PANTRY comes the closest to what I remember from those long-ago days.

CORN RELISH

  • Servings: Makes 3 cups of relish
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  • 3-1/2 cups fresh corn kernels*
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 Tblsp. pickling salt
  • 1 Tblsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp. celery seed
  • 1/8 tsp. ground hot red pepper
  • 1-1/4 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water

*You can substitute thawed frozen corn (drained) or well drained canned corn if fresh isn’t available.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine the corn, onions, red and green pepper and celery.

Add the brown sugar, pickling salt, mustard, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, hot red pepper, vinegar and water.  Stir everything together and place pot on medium-high heat.

Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Lower heat and simmer mixture partly covered until it has thickened slightly – about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Ladle relish into hot sterilized jars, seal, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, counting the time after the water has started to boil again after inserting the jars. I like to use an asparagus steamer for processing just a jar or two.

This batch makes about 3 cups of relish.  I filled a one-pint jar and processed it.  A half-pint jar was filled and not processed, but will be refrigerated.  In either case, allow the relish to cure for two weeks before using.  The refrigerated version should be used within two weeks after the curing time.

The pint jar will be stored away for Thanksgiving when I like to have on the table a sampling of pickles and relishes that I’ve made that year.   Here are some other pickles and relishes I’ve made this summer that I plan to have on my Thanksgiving table this year:

This is a good website with information on canning.

Spicy Bread and Butter Pickles

I first made these pickles on September 21, 1985, and thought they were good enough to take to the county fair in 1986.  I don’t believe they won a ribbon, but the family enjoyed them.

The recipe is from a great book, Garden Way’s Pickles & Relishes – 150 recipes – Apples to Zucchini, by Andrea Chesman. The original recipe made 4 pints, but I cut it in half for this batch which will give me one jar to use this summer and one jar to save for next Memorial Day and July 4th.  The addition of Tabasco sauce makes them spicy but not hot.

SPICY BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLES

  • 3-1/2 cups thinly sliced pickling cucumbers, unpeeled
  • 1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 quart water
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

The Brine:

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. mixed pickling spices
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Combine the cucumbers, onions, one quart of water and 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce in a stainless steel or glass bowl and let stand for 3-4 hours.

Drain the vegetables and rinse 3 times with cold water; let stand in fresh water for 5 minutes, then drain again.

Combine the vinegar, one cup of water, brown sugar, granulated sugar, spices and 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce in a stainless steel saucepan; stir and bring to a boil.  Add the drained vegetables to boiling brine, bring to a boil again, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Fill hot sterilized pint jars with the pickled mixture, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Seal.

Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes, counting the time after the water begins to boil again after the jar has been inserted.  For small batches like this, I like to use an asparagus steamer for processing the pickles.

Cool on a wire rack.

Let pickles cure for at least 2 weeks before serving.

Click here for a good website on canning and preserving.

Harvest Relish (One Quart)

toppixExactly 14 years ago today, September 7, 1995, I made this relish for the first time, making a big batch so I could use up some more of the tomatoes and cucumbers my husband was continually hauling into the house from the garden in a big oversized wicker basket.  We had to leave our big garden behind over 8 years ago when my husband was very ill with Alzheimer’s and he passed away 5 years ago.  So, today on the anniversary of the first try at this recipe, I made a quart of this relish for myself and for my daughter when she visits.  We especially like it served alongside grilled pork tenderloin.  The recipe is from the book, The Forgotten Art of Making Old Fashioned Pickles.

HARVEST RELISH

  • 2 cups cucumber, peeled, seeded and ground
  • 2 cups tomato, peeled and chopped (prefer Roma)
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Chinese mustard
  • 1-1/4 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper

Place cucumber, tomato and onion in a large pot.  Add sugar and vinegar, stir to blend and cook until vegetables are tender – 20-25 minutes.

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In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, flour and turmeric.  Stir into the cooked vegetable mixture, reduce heat to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes until mixture has thickened.

Add salt and pepper, mixing well.  Pour into sterilized jars, cap and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes (for pint and half-pint jars).

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Yield:  One quart (2 pints) 

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German Stuffed Mango (Green Pepper)

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When I was growing up in Cincinnati’s East End, our German neighbors enjoyed something called a “Stuffed Mango”.  Most families made their own, but the Stuffed Mango was also available in the small groceries and delicatessens in the area.  I was in high school before I realized the “mango” was a green bell pepper.

In the 1980s when my husband and I lived in a spot called Blue Jay on the Ohio/Indiana border, we had a huge garden and a lot of green bell peppers.  My German husband recalled the old stuffed mango with fondness and before the days of the internet search, I tried to find a recipe.  I wound up combining several sources, including The Ball Blue Book of 1943 and a wonderful 1983 cookbook by Mary Anna DuSablon, Cincinnati Recipe Treasury*.  It wasn’t a difficult process to make the peppers but it did stretch over two days, all of the work being worthwhile when my husband tasted the mango and loved it.

I haven’t made the peppers for many years, but decided to reduce the recipe considerably and make just two which are not processed and are kept in the refrigerator.  They should be used within a week or so of their two-week curing period.  Here is the recipe for two German Stuffed Mangoes.

GERMAN STUFFED MANGO (Green Pepper)

  • Servings: 2 stuffed peppers
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  • 2 medium/large green bell peppers
  • 2 Tblsp. pickling salt
  • Cold water to cover

Stuffing

  • 2 cups finely chopped cabbage
  • 1/2 tsp. pickling salt
  • 1/4 tsp. celery seed
  • 1-1/2 Tblsp. mustard seed

Brine

  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Slice off the stem ends of peppers, cutting down about 3/4″ from top, reserve tops.  Core and seed peppers.  In each of two one-quart containers (Cool Whip containers work well), place 1 Tblsp. salt plus about half a container of cold water, stirring to dissolve salt.  Add one pepper and its top to each container.  Pour enough cold water over the peppers and their tops to cover.  Weigh down with something like a small custard cup to be sure peppers remain submerged.  Let stand on counter overnight.

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The next morning, drain and rinse the peppers and tops in cold water, then set on a rack to drain.

In a large bowl place the chopped cabbage and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. of pickling salt.  Stir and let stand at room temperature for 3 hours, covered with a clean, dry towel.

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After 3 hours, add celery seed and mustard seed to the cabbage.  Stuff this mixture into each of the peppers, place the tops on and fasten shut by wrapping each pepper and top several times around with white cotton string.

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In a medium pan bring the vinegar and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and immediately place the peppers in the brine, using a slotted spoon.  Allow to cool until lukewarm, occasionally spooning brine over the peppers.  Then, carefully remove the peppers with a slotted spoon and place in a refrigerator container.  Pour the brine over the peppers, cover and refrigerate.

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Peppers should be allowed to cure in the refrigerator for two weeks.

When ready to serve, remove the pepper from the brine and cut the string.  Remove the top and slice the pepper in half.

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Serve with sandwiches or as a relish/pickle with meals. 

Both the slaw and the pickled pepper itself are very tasty.  One-fourth of a large stuffed pepper is enough for me but my husband used to easily eat a whole pepper and the little bits around the top stem along with a couple of grilled bratwursts.

*This book, Cincinnati Recipe Treasury, is a great look at “The Queen City’s Culinary Heritage” which includes a lot of German recipes, but also Italian, Greek, French and other ethnic food, as well as southern dishes (Cincinnati is right across the river from Kentucky).  There are also some wonderful sketches of Cincinnati landmarks.  I haven’t seen the book in local stores lately but it occasionally shows up on eBay.

Fresh Corn-Zucchini (Squash) Relish

cornOver twenty years ago when my husband and I lived in rural Ohio on the Indiana border with a huge vegetable garden, I tried a lot of recipes to deal with the surplus produce.  In 1985, I found this recipe for Fresh Corn Zucchini (or Yellow Summer Squash) Relish in a cookbook called, “Seasoned with Sunshine”.  I made it on July 21 and the next week entered it in our Hamilton County Fair (Cincinnati).  It won a blue ribbon and became a family favorite.

Since I’m by myself now in a small bungalow with no garden, I pick up produce at the farmer’s market and make one quart of the relish.

  • Servings: 1 quart (2 pints)
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  • 2 cups fresh corn, cut from cob
  • 3/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. pickling salt
  • 1/2 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1/4 tsp. dry mustard
  • 2 cups zucchini or yellow summer squash, unpeeled, sliced 1/4″ thick (cut larger diameter slices in half)

squashbwl2In a large pot, combine all ingredients EXCEPT ZUCCHINI/YELLOW SQUASH.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Add zucchini/squash slices and simmer uncovered on low heat for 20 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.

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Spoon relish into sterilized jars – one quart or two pint jars.  Relish can be kept in the refrigerator for use within a month or so, or processed in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes for longer storage. 

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I could refrigerate the two pint jars for my own use, or even more fun, keep one jar and make up the second one for a neighbor.  It’s easy to dress up the giveaway jar with a circle of fabric placed between the jar cap and lid.  Yes, I think I like that idea best.  Now, which of my neighbors would enjoy some relish today?

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Mom’s Blue Ribbon Watermelon Pickles

I once heard Garrison Keillor say something to the effect that the only purpose for watermelon pickles was to have an item on the Thanksgiving table that you could pass up.  When I was a child at my Grandmothers’ or Great-Aunt’s tables, the very things I looked forward to were corn relish, picallili and watermelon pickles.

I was a late-comer to canning and preserving.  My mother never attempted it and I was 50 before I found myself in a country home with a big garden and a lot of produce to use up.  Once I got started, I enjoyed canning so much that I spent the entire summer “putting up” everything my husband brought into the kitchen in his oversized basket.  We never grew watermelon but I bought a good Indiana melon each summer at the farmer’s market and made these pickles in quantity.  Now that I’m alone, I make up one small jar so I can have something on the Thanksgiving table for people to pass on.  This recipe won a Blue Ribbon at the Hamilton County Fair (Cincinnati) in 1983.

MOM'S BLUE RIBBON WATERMELON PICKLES

  • Servings: Makes one cup
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  • 3 cups of watermelon rind, prepared*
  • 1 cup cold tap water
  • 3/4 Tblsp. pickling salt

Brine:

  • 1 tsp. whole cloves
  • 1 tsp. whole allspice
  • One 2″ piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tblsp. granulated sugar

*To prepare watermelon rind:

I used a medium sized seedless watermelon.  This melon had a thin rind.  Big old-fashioned black-seeded melons have a very thick rind and may need a longer cooking time.  The very small melons don’t have enough rind to use in this recipe.

Cut the melon in sections and cube the watermelon to set aside for some good eating.  Don’t cut too closely to the white portion of the rind.

Trim off the green rind and scrape the watermelon off the white section.  I cut my melon in matchstick strips about 1/2″ wide.

Place the rind strips in a non-metal container, cover with water and add salt.  Soak overnight.

The next morning, drain the rind, cover with fresh water and cook approximately 30 minutes at medium heat until almost tender.  Add water if needed.  Drain.

In a large pan, place the allspice, cloves, cinnamon, white vinegar, water and sugar and bring to a boil.  Add the drained rind and simmer gently for about 45 minutes.  The brine should be syrupy and cover the rind with a little to spare.

Remove the cinnamon stick and pour pickles into a sterilized 1/2 pint jar and cap.

Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. I’ve found an asparagus steamer is good for processing just a jar or two.   Let jar cool on a rack before storing. Allow pickles to cure for at least a week before using for best flavor. 

This is a good web site for information on canning and preserving foods.

Freezer Tarragon Pickles

Back in 1987 when my husband, daughter and I lived in a rural area called Blue Jay on the Ohio/Indiana border, I tried out numerous recipes to use up all of the produce that came from our large garden.  I had a lot to work with and a family to feed, so I preserved a lot of stuff.  Now, my daughter is married, my husband passed away four years ago and I like to make just a jar or two of my favorites from 20+ years ago.  This is a good refrigerator or freezer pickle recipe I make when I have some fresh tarragon and can find pickling cucumbers at the farmer’s market.

FREEZER TARRAGON PICKLES

  • 4 cups thinly sliced cucumbers
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tblsp. pickling salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seed
  • 1/2 Tblsp. fresh tarragon
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine cucumbers, onions and salt.  Let stand for 3 hours.

Rinse vegetables under cold tap water and drain well.

Combine the granulated sugar, white wine vinegar, white vinegar, celery seed, tarragon and pepper and add the drained vegetables.  Mix well and pack into two one-pint containers.

I keep one jar in the refrigerator to cure for one week before eating, and place the other jar in the freezer for a summer treat during the winter.  When removing from the freezer, allow to defrost in the refrigerator for 8 hours before serving.

Yield:  Two pints 

These pickles are light, crisp and refreshing.

Best of Show Dill Spears

Twenty-five years ago (1983), my husband, daughter and I were living on two acres of land on the Ohio/Indiana border.  Fruit trees took up about one acre and a huge vegetable garden took up the other half, barely leaving enough room for a small house.  My husband loved his mini-farm and spent every spare minute away from his normal job working in the garden.  He got excellent results and from the first asparagus in April to the remnants of the garden in the fall, I tried to use everything he hauled into the house every day.

He enjoyed walking down the rows of the garden in the early summer, pointing to each plant and telling me what kind of vegetable it was and how many plants he had.  He did this every day – a little boring, but he was so proud of his garden.

We always had a bumper crop of cucumbers and I processed them immediately to be sure we had crisp, crunchy pickles all year around.

The first year I seriously entered a county fair was in 1983 when I was brand-new to canning and preserving.  Imagine my surprise when we went to the fair and saw I had won a blue ribbon and a coveted BEST OF SHOW rosette for my Dill Pickle Spears.  That year, they had gotten creative in displaying canned goods and had them arranged on an old red wagon.  At the very top was a big, beautiful rosette and a completely empty pickle jar.  The judges told me they had liked the pickles so much that they had eaten all of them with their lunch that day.

Here’s the recipe:

DILL PICKLE SPEARS

  • Servings: Approx. 10 quarts
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  • 4 lbs. pickling cucumbers, cut in spears
  • Dill seeds
  • Whole peppercorns
  • 2 cups of 5% acid strength white vinegar
  • 4-1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup pickling salt

Place spears in sterilized hot quart jars.  Add 1 tsp. dill seed and 3 peppercorns to each jar.

Combine the vinegar, water and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Pour over the cucumbers, filling to within 1/4″ of jar top.  Seal and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

I’ve found an asparagus steamer is good for processing just a few jars. Let jars cool on a rack before storing. Allow pickles to cure for at least 2 weeks before using for best flavor.

Makes approximately 10 quarts 

This is a good website for canning and preserving foods.

As a Best of Show Winner, I had my picture taken and there was a small article in our local newspaper with the recipe.

My husband passed away 4 years ago and since the dill spears were his favorite and not mine, I don’t make them any more.  But I think of him every time I drive by a big vegetable garden and remember the first Best of Show ribbon I ever won.