Relish Time

Nah...that's not an admonishment to relish time, but rather to herald in the beginning of hot pepper relish time!

My relish is generally chef's pick of the garden.  That means I go out and pick whatever peppers have reached maturity on that day.  I have about 1/2 hot and 1/2 sweet peppers of various varieties in my garden.  However, size and weight will differ depending on, you know, what's ready to pick.

Check out my canning links....most particularly UGA's publications.  Okay, not need to futz about, you can find it here.

I chose their Hot Pepper Relish.  The only modification is that I substituted cucumbers for onions.  I've never done this before--this being adding cucumbers.  NOrmally, I simply use hot peppers.  However, my cucumbers were producing like mad, and it seemed fair and fine to add some!  I realize that one has to be careful when using this v. that for canning, but given the amount of sugar, the hot processing time, etc, I don't think that anyone will get botulism.

Even with the addition of cucumbers, this relish is hot.  I used my Weston #22 (my dog food grinder) to grind my vegetables.  In the past I have hand cut; food processed; Kitchen Aid grinded.  However, last year, was the first growing season that I had the Weston.  It makes very short work out of a very tedious task.

I remember one season, I hand cut peppers into rings.  Let me tell you, that my back hurt and I had a Fred Sanford claw for my right hand.  With the Weston #22, it ground 9 lbs of vegetables in less than 8 minutes.

Oh....I forgot to mention that with the exception of the bell peppers which I split and pulled out the pith, I merely cut out the tops of my peppers and ground the whole thing.  It gives no degradation in taste and amps up the heat.

For those thinking that this must be blistering; it is not.   Cooking the peppers takes some of the heat off.  And speaking of heat.....who wants to can when it is approaching 100 degrees outside.  Well, my Solaire ceramic grill is just perfect.  It sits outside! I pull the grill off and set it sideways right on top of the burner guard.  It's stable, and it is so freakin' hot that the water boils fast and maintains temperature once I add my items to the bath. Between the Weston and the Solaire, canning has never been easier (for relishes).

There are so many different recipes for canning vegetable or fruits.  It can be daunting to a novice.  My advice:    I would recommend that you look at the UGA publications--particularly the principles of canning.  Then,  try your hand at something while good produce is coming in. Observe safety precautions, or just start off with a freezer jam.

Safety Precautions:  It is important to understand the principles of canning, most particularly the principles of pH.  pH is important as +> 4.6 botulism can grow.  So whipping up your own recipe, or failing to follow the correct proportions of vegetables and acids can cause a fatal problem.    I have to believe that given what I've seen on the internet (gross divergences from published standards) coupled with the small incidence of botulism in the US, that it is statistically remote.  That's not to disabuse any of the notion that they can stray from standards.  Rather, that many clearly do.

Once you go through the process, like anything, you will become competent.  Every year people wait for my relish.  Find your own signature canning product--make it your own and enjoy.  It is wonderful to share the bounty of nature.


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