My cucumber plants have been prolific this year. They really like the trellis I gave them this year, and their fruit has been more reliable and less bitter.
So, copious quantities of cukes have led to a plethora of pickles! Also known (by me) as Project Pickle!
I love pickles – always have and probably always will. I love the pucker power!
So, Project Pickle is basically just making homemade pickles with homegrown cucumbers and canning them. I’ve done some research and learned a couple of tricks to making the best homemade pickles.
- Prior to canning your pickles, soak your cucumber slices or spears in an ice water bath for 4-6 hours. The chilling helps your cucumbers to have a good texture.
- Add a grape leaf or oak tree leaf to your jars when canning pickles. The tannins from the leaves help keep your pickles crunchy.
There is more to project pickle than just pickle spears and slices…
I have never been a fan of relish. It is generally too sweet for me, remember I said I like pucker power. During the course of Project Pickle, I have learned to try new recipes, and fallen in love with relish…Sour Relish! Add a little Ranch seasoning and you’ve got yourself the king of sandwich and burger condiments.
It is really easy to make, and you don’t even need a canner to preserve it. It would make great hostess or housewarming gifts.
Sour Ranch Pickle Relish
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4-5 pounds of cucumber
2 bell peppers (any color/combination)
1 medium onion
¼ C pickling salt
1 C white vinegar
1 C apple cider vinegar
1 C water
2 pkgs Ranch seasoning
-Shred your cucumbers, peppers, and onion into a large bowl. (An old-school box grater works, but a Presto Salad Shooter is so much faster.)
-Add the pickling salt, along with ice and enough water to cover your shreds, then let sit for 4-6 hours – stir occasionally.
-During your wait time, sterilize your jars.
I personally like canning relish in half-pint jars, but any size jar will do.
To sterilize your jars add ½ tsp of bleach to each jar, then fill them with boiling water.
If you have access to grape leaves or oak leaves, go ahead and wash them then stick one (or half of one) in each jar.
-After the ice water bath, drain your shreds and rinse them well TWICE.
-In a large pot on the stove, add the vinegars, cup of water, and Ranch packets. Whisk together and bring to a boil.
-Boil for 5 minutes.
-Add the rinsed cucumber, pepper, and onion shreds to the brine mixture on the stove.
-Bring back to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
-While the mixture is simmering, get your canning lids ready. Place the lids in a pot of boiling water (I tend to use water from my hot pot/kettle and pour it over the lids in a shallow bowl) to soften the seal so they will make good contact with the jar and seal well.
-After 10 minutes turn off the heat and use a ladle and canning funnel to fill your jars. (Remember to leave about 1 inch of space at the top of each jar.)
-Use a paper towel and white vinegar to wipe the rims of each jar (this removes any oils or contaminants that might keep the seals from making good contact with the rim of the jars.
-Carefully add a lid and a ring to each jar (a canning magnet comes in handy for this part) and screw them on finger tight.
-Place your jars into another large pot (large enough to hold jars and enough water to cover their lids).
-After the jars and water are in the pot, crank up the heat and bring the water to a boil. This is a canning method known as a water bath. Boil the jars and water for 10 minutes.
After the water bath, carefully remove the jars (jar lifters are a lifesaver here) and turn them upside down on a kitchen towel.
-Let the jars cool. After they have sealed, flip them right side up and check that they have sealed. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated.
Wait at least two weeks to enjoy the relish – then it is fully seasoned and pickled, and worth the wait!
This sour Ranch relish is great for sandwiches, hamburgers, and charcuterie boards.