Thursday, August 4, 2011

Zucchini Relish, Part Deux

Finished up the relish today.  Oh, it's sooooo good!

Here's the recipe for day two:  (See here for day one.)

5 c white sugar
2-1/4 c vinegar
2 t turmeric
2 t celery seed
1 T dry mustard
1 t nutmeg
1/2 c corn starch
1/4 t hot chili pepper (dried)
1green pepper, minced
1 red pepper, minced.

Cook 30 minutes.  Use a large pan, it will boil up.  Add drained zucchini/onion mixture and heat all to a boil. Set clean hot jars in a pan of water and add relish.  Seal with new lids and turn upside down for 5 mins.  Turn back upright.

Between yesterday and today I had emailed back and forth with the woman who gave me this recipe.  I asked her about the pulp thing.  She said don't worry about it, this recipe is very forgiving.  I like forgiving.

As I made this, I wondered about a couple things: 

* Wow, that's a lot of sugar!

* What kind of vinegar? Since it called for a lot, I used white vinegar because I keep large jugs on hand for cleaning purposes.  (Not that I ever actually clean, so it doesn't get much  use.)

* Wow, that's a lot of cornstarch

* Hot chili pepper, dried, what the heck is that?  I used red pepper flakes.

The only changes I made to the above recipe were I used 2 c white vinegar and 1/4 c balsamic vinegar.  And I used 2.5 t celery seed just cuz I really like celery seed.

For you Aga owners:
I cooked the mixture on the BP til it came to a boil and then I put it in the SO for the remainder of the 30 mins.  I didn't do the hot water in a pan and upside down thing.  I put all the jars in the SO for 15 mins and then pulled them out.   I didn't feel there was a big need to process this due to all the sugar and vinegar and I've read you can dry process jams and such in the SO, so I've done that a few times with good results.  The lids all popped after I pulled them out.

I ended up with 11 and a half jars of relish.  Most of the jars were the regular size jars you always see in the grocery store.  One was shorter and stockier and 2 were slightly larger.  So that's a good amount of relish.  I absolutely love Love LOVE the way all the filled jars look after I can something.

I decided to go in search of other zucchini relish recipes on the web to see how they compared to mine.  Wow, they are all over the place in regards to quantities of ingredients.  Most call for pretty much the same as my recipe, altho some leave out a few items.  The most interesting was similar to mine ex it added in 2 cups of chopped red mango.  Now that sounds like some relish!  I'll probably add in mangos next time.

There was a huge difference in the amounts of sugar.  One called for 6 cups, several called for 5 or 5.5, and many called for less.  I will definitely use less next time.  And I'm so tempted to try canning with Splenda.  Has anyone had good results with that?

While some called for 'vinegar' or 'white vinegar,' most called for apple cider vinegar. Duh!  Next time I will use that and save the balsamic for something you can tell the difference in.

Nutmeg was only listed in one or two of the other recipes I checked.  I like nutmeg.  It doesn't seem to really  make a difference in this relish, meaning I can't taste it, but since I like it, I'll keep putting it in!

Corn starch - none of the other recipes came close to this quantity of corn starch.  I haven't decided, but I  may cut back on the amount next time I make this.

All the recipes called for using enamel or earthenware utensils, not aluminum.

Here's the range I found:

10 - 12 c zucchini, minced, diced, or shredded (one called for ultra thin slices)
3-5 c onions, yellow or red
2-4 bell peppers, red, green, or a combination
5 T salt or rock salt  (a couple called for 1/2 c rock salt but the vast majority stuck to 5 T)

Leave for one hour before the drain/rinse/drain or 3 hours or overnight.   Some say to refrigerate it overnight, some don't.

2.5 c to 6 c white sugar or brown sugar
2 c to 5 c vinegar (seems like anything over 2-1/4 would make it too liquidy), white or apple cider or both
3/4 t to 2 t turmeric
1.5 t to 2 t celery seed
1 T dry mustard or 4 T to 1 c (!!!) mustard seeds
1 t nutmeg
1 t to 1/2 c corn starch or arrowroot or flour
1/4 t hot chili pepper (dried) or 1 t coarse black pepper
1 to 2 green pepper, minced
1 to 2 red pepper, minced

Variations as in extra things you could add in:
2 c diced red mango (yum!)
1 c flat leaf parsley
15 T dried dill weed
5 bunches of green onions, chopped
garlic - anywhere from none to a whole lot
3 roasted green chili peppers
1 t grated ginger
1 t wasabi powder
1 t lemon basil or cilantro
hot sauce/tabasco

Cooking time was all over the map.  Some say cook it all, including the zucchini and onions, for 30 mins; some say cook for only 5 or 10 mins.  One called for an hour and a half cooking.  Overkill I say.  Some got complicated about mixing the thickener with water or vinegar and then adding it in.  Not necessary I say.

Some say to process in a water bath for anywhere from 5 to 15 mins.   Some don't mention processing.  One says originally this recipe didn't call for processing but since the new rules came out, it now calls for processing.  As far as I know, no one has ever died from eating unprocessed zucchini relish, but if you're worried about that sort of thing, then process away.  If I planned to give this away as Christmas gifts, I probably would have processed because I like to err on the side of caution when giving food gifts.  I suppose I should be more concerned with my own family!  (Sorry, guys.)

The simplest of the recipes I looked at said to simmer the whole mess for 30 mins, put in hot clean jars, seal, and be done with it.  Now that's easy!

Bottom line - this relish recipe is not only delicious, it's beyond forgiving.  It's completely foolproof and it sounds like you couldn't mess it up if your tried.  You can really go to town and make this your own.  Really my favorite kind of recipe!  And so colorful - using a mixture of yellow and green zucchini, red and yellow onions, and red and green peppers makes for an appealingly colorful relish.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Zucchini Relish

Starting my zucchini relish today. I gave away a desk on Freecycle last summer and the woman who came to get it brought me a jar of her zucchini relish. It was eat-out-of-the-jar-with-a-spoon delicious, so I begged the recipe from her. The only thing I'm planning to change is to add in a little bit of balsamic vinegar in place of the regular vinegar. This recipe is a two-dayer. Today:

5 cups finely chopped onions
10 cups finely chopped zucchini, seeds and pulp removed
Sprinkle with 5 T rock salt and leave covered overnight.

Thanks to my handy-dandy food processor, day one was a breeze.  I bought 5 organic onions thinking each would yield about a cup.  Each was about 2 cups, so I only used 3 and now I have about a cup of onions in my freezer for the  next time I need diced onions.  I love that!

Did you know that if you breathe only through your mouth when you chop onions, it won't sting your eyes.  I wore contact lenses from the time I was in high school until about 9 years ago. At several intervals, I used glasses instead of contacts.  Never once in my life did my eyes ever sting from working with onions.  In 2002 I had lasik eye surgery and after boy oh boy, now I know what everyone has talked about!  Isn't it odd that the surgery would change that?! Then I learned the breathe through your mouth trick.  Works like a charm.

I don't really know what zucchini pulp is.  I halved the zucchinis lengthwise and used a little strawberry huller I have to scrape down the center.  I barely took out anything, because the seeds were miniscule to nonexistent, so I  may have more pulp than I'm supposed to.   Guess we'll find out tomorrow!  My zucchinis were in the 270g - 350g size.  I used two green and 3 yellow, all organic.

An interesting fact I recently learned from one of our local farmers (who I bought the zucchini from):  Zucchini should be shiny.  It doesn't matter how big it is as long as it's still shiny.  She also says you can extend the life of zucchini by rubbing oil on it, thus keeping it shiny.  I have no idea if this is true or not.  I couldn't find anything else on the web about  it, altho I did find places where it said to always look for shiny zucchini.

Stay tuned for day 2!