Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Making Green Tomato Relish and Piccalilli. Waste Not, Want Not

Makes about 8 pints
12 pounds green tomatoes, (peeled and chopped)
1 1/2 cups coarse salt
1 medium head cabbage, chopped
12 cups (96 oz) Cider vinegar
8 onions, chopped
3 Sweet Red Peppers, seeded and chopped
2 green peppers, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons celery seed
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 clove garlic, peeled
Sprinkle chopped tomatoes with salt,cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Drain thoroughly and place tomatoes in large kettle. Add cabbage and vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook until thick, stirring occasionally. Remove garlic clove. Ladle into hot sterilized jars. Sell immediately.
This recipe can be made by chopping the vegetables by hand and or using a food processor.
Making relish is a two day process if you follow the recipe here.
However, preparation is important.
Before any process in the recipe is started, the kitchen needs to be clean, crocks and utensils cleaned, jars and lids made ready. Vegetables and ingredients are gathered for a day or more and stored properly until ready to use.
Here's a photo of the beautiful, aged crocks turned upside down, drying in preparation to being filled with the relish ingredients. Each step of preparation is rewarding as the process unfolds.
Makes 5 to 6 pints
2 Sweet red peppers, seeded and chopped
2 green peppers, seeded and chipped
4 cups chopped green tomatoes (about 6)
1 cup chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
2 large onions, chopped
1 small head cabbage, chopped
1/2 cup coarse salt
3 cups cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 1/4 cups firmly packed light brownsugar
1 teaspoon turmeric
Layer peppers, tomatoes, celery, onion and cabbage, sprinkling each layer with seal. Let mixture stand covered at room temperature overnight. The next day drain thoroughly. Put mixture n a large kettle and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Ladle into clean hot pint jars, leaving 1/8 inch headspace. Seal immediately. Process 5 minutes in boiling water bath.
Each step of preparation is rewarding as the process unfolds. When these things are in order, the first day of this two day process begins.
It's time for cleaning and chopping the vegetables. If you really think about it, it's much more then a two days process, especially when you sprout your own tomato seeds that you gathered from the previous year and have tended those little seedlings until they became mature plants and produced tomatoes.
It's more accurate to say, it's a year long process or life-style.
I would encourage anybody who is considering home food preservation to invite family members or friends to join you.
The social part of working and creating together is just one more valuable components of this experience.
Conversations while chopping and measuring are relaxed and friendly. Time slows down and words seem kinder and gentler during this interlude from daily outside stress.
Shared memories are created and relationship bonds are strengthened as cabbages are shredded.
Spending time with my son Abe is the greatest reward of making this relish. Who ever it is that joins you in this journey from garden to kitchen to pantry will enjoy this path you share. We always make enough for ourselves and some to give as gifts.
Abe shared stories with about the relish he has shared throughout the year. His friend Brad Smithard loved the relish so much, he invited Christina and him to come and stay in his hotel in Astoria, and of course Brad reminded Abe to,"Bring some relish."
Another happy recipient of the relish reciprocated with a rattlesnake barbecue and handmade rattlesnake watch band.
Even though true gift giving is an act that never expects a return, one may be surprised by how other's may want to show their appreciation.
Everything we have is provided by the Great Giver, so it is only natural to give back.
As my late mother, who taught me home production, canning and food preservation, Joyce Skilling, aka Nana Skilling taught, "It is better to give then to receive."
Read the recipe, check your pantry for what you already have and then acquire what you don't have.
Spend some time studying the process the recipe uses.
There are sequences to making relish or piccalille, some are more critical then others.
For instance, only some of the vegetables and salt are put in the crock the first day.
The green tomato relish recipe calls for the cabbage to be kept out of the crock until the next day and while the other vegetables are put in the crock with salt. The spices and vinegar are not put in the crock until the next day.
Gather all ingredients before starting relish.
We grew all the tomatoes for this recipe, but had to acquire the cabbage, green and red peppers, celery, onions and garlic. Fortunately we already had the salt, apple cider vinegar and spices.
I always keep a large supply of salt and vinegar in my pantry, I buy it in bulk. These are good items to have on hand for many reasons.
They are inexpensive and very important.
With my lifestyle of striving for self sufficiency and using natural remedies and cleansers, salt and vinegar are some of my go-to supplies.
I used vinegar in many ways from cleaning sinks to drinking it in water in the morning and also for bathing.
It's a healthy alternative to many over the counter cleansers.
Our tomatoes were picked after a light frost so they had gotten some frost bites.
Like us, we get a little weather beaten, but we're still good on the inside.
The frost bites were only skin deep and showed up as dark skin and in some cases soft spots. I just used a parring knife to cut those places off. The inside of the tomatoes were not damaged.
Abe sorted the bad tomatoes out, and put the ones we couldn't use in the bucket for the compost. He washed the usable tomatoes and put them in a bowl for me to cut. After cutting tomatoes into chunks, the tomatoes went into the food processor.
Have three bowls. Abe moved the bucket of muddy tomatoes next to the sink where he washed and rinsed the tomatoes. He placed them in the first bowl. The second bowl is for the parts to be cut off, it's the compost bowl. The third bowl is for the freshly trimmed tomatoes ready for the food processor.
Handling the tomatoes and vegetables is a rewarding experience. Take note of their textures, colors and fragrances. Let all your senses become involved, it's very enjoyable. Connecting with the food we eat and being thankful for the Good Lord for providing is good for the soul. In Brownsville, Oregon in the little patch of earth we've been blessed with, we had a bounteous harvest this year.
Allow your heart be filled with gratitude!
The photo is of the piccalilli. Each layer gets a layer of salt: cabbage,tomatoes, green and red peppers, onions and celery.
Now it will sit over night in one of my husband's (John Holbrook) grandmother Pyland's crock.
Relish and Piccalilli is made from what is left over after the harvest. Waste not, want not is a motto of days past. Nothing was wasted in my parents generation at least not by their families.
My mother was raised during World War II, 15 miles south of London in Cowley, Middlesex. Her family consisted of her father (William) Edward Davies, mother Emma Cockerel and her two older sisters Peggy and Phyllis. They shared a house their grandmother, cousins, aunt and uncle. They experienced extreme shortages and food rationing.
My step-dad, William (Bill) Skilling was raised in Cottage Grove Oregon and Northern California, he tells stories of the Great Depression when his family had to live in a cleaned out chicken coop. He spoke fondly of seeing his mother and aunts making piccalilli.
My father, William Douglas (Doug) Conklin's family consisted of his father William (Bill)Henry Conklin, mother Netta Delone (Dee) Aubrey, brother Dale and sister Anita (Ginger, they fared a little better in Hollywood California as his father's paint business "Treasure Tone Paint" prospered, but other family members tell stories of saving bits of string to have on hand since they didn't have any money to buy more or it simple wasn't available. His Aunt Clara could unravel an old worn out sweater and use the yard to knit something else useful. She continued this practice even after the depression ended and she was living comfortably in the river rock home her and her husband built with their own hands in Livingston California.
Some may think that recycling is a new idea one thought up by progressive thinkers, but it's actually a very old way of living.
It's nice to see it making a come back. In years past, everything was preserved and used.
I love the aromas and colors of the chopped vegetables. We put all the chopped vegetables that the recipe calls for in the crock.
Since we used heirloom tomatoes, we saved some of the seeds. I'll plant the seeds in January or February indoors and move them out to the grow boxes when the weather warms up. Cut slices of the tomato, I just picked some out of the bucket that is heading for the compost. These are Green Tiger Heirloom tomatoes.
After separating the seeds from the tomato, place the seeds in a fine strainer. Rinse the seeds with water, while pushing the excess tomato through the strainer with your thumbs or fingers. The tomato flesh quite easily rinses through the strainer, while the tomato seeds are cleaned by rubbing them around on the wire of the strainer. Enjoy the slippery texture of the seeds.
Air dry the tomato seeds on parchment paper or wax paper that has been labeled with seed type and date. (DON'T THINK "I'll remember.)
In a couple of days, when seeds are dry, put them in a jar or zip lock bag and store in cool dry place. (This is important because seeds need to be kept cool and dry, preferable away from light and animals that eat them, i.e. mice.)Keep them in a safe place until they are ready to plant, you have already begun next year food preservation.
These little jewels hold the future of next years harvest.