Home Cooking Recipes
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Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour


It's time to get in a pickle

"In a pickle," is one of those sayings that we have heard all of our lives and no one knows where it originated. Maybe it goes back to 3020 BC when food historians say pickling became a common way to preserve vegetables.

Today we use fruits and vegetables preserved with vinegar as a condiment, something to make meat, poultry and fish taste very good indeed. I, for one, have loved pickles all of my life. And, I love the pickling process. The smell of vinegar and spices perfuming the house reminds me of my mother and my grandmother and my aunt Mildred, all of them aficionados of the pickle.

The best part of pickling is that it is almost impossible to have a failure. There is so much acid in cider vinegar that no bacteria can survive, however, other vinegar's have less and if you want to keep your pickles on a shelf through the winter you may want to process the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes, jut to be doubly certain all micro-organisms have gone to the great hereafter.

To process in a Hot Water Bath: place a rack in bottom of deep pan, kettle of roaster (so that water can circulate under the jars). Place jars on rack so that they do not touch each other so that water can circulate freely between jars. Cover with boiling water 1-inch over jar tops. When water comes to boil again, cover and keep water at slow boil, for 10 minutes.

Pickling is a simple process. You can be fearless and charge ahead even if you've never made a pickle before in your life.

REFRIGERATOR CARROT PICKLER

Cut the carrots into strips the height of the jar, or cut them in rings, or use the tiny baby carrots you can buy already cleaned and bagged.

12 medium carrots, cut into 1/20-inch wide strips
8 large mint sprigs
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar, plus more if needed
1/4 cup water
6 garlic cloves, optional
1 1/2 tablespoons salt, NOT iodized
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Blanch the carrots for 1 minute in a pan of boiling water. Drain and let cool, then pack into jars. Add mint. Toast cumin seeds in small skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Let cool, then add to jars. Bring remaining ingredients to a boil and simmer until salt and sugar dissolve. Ladle the boiling liquid into the jars. If, necessary, add more vinegar to cover the carrots. Let cool, cover with lids and refrigerate about 3 weeks to let full flavor develop. Makes about 2 pints. Note: If you want to keep the pickles longer, sterilize jars and lids, be certain liquid is boiling when you fill the jars to within 1/2-inch of the top. Seal and immediately process for 10 minutes.

MARION CUNNINGHAM'S SWEET & SOUR GARDEN RELISH

Goes well with fish, steak or lamb.

3/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons celery salt
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
large tomatoes, cored and peeled
1/4 large onion, peeled
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled

Bring to a boil vinegar, water, sugar, celery salt, mustard seed, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper; turn down heat and simmer 8 to 10 minutes. Cool. Before serving chop the tomatoes into small pieces. Lay onion flat-side down and cut 1/8 inch strips lengthwise, cut into 1/8-inch pieces cross-wise. Cut cucumber into thin slices, then stack the slices and cut in half. Add tomato and onion to the chilled marinade; stir to incorporate. Cover and store until serving time. Just before serving add the cucumber. This will keep several weeks if it is kept covered and refrigerated. This, too, can be preserved by following the process described in the Carrot Pickle recipe. Makes 3 cups.

HOMEMADE KETCHUP

You can use fresh or canned tomatoes. Delicious as a topping for your favorite meatloaf, burger or anywhere you like catsup.

28 ounces peeled whole tomatoes
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
pinch ground allspice
pinch ground ginger
pinch ground celery seed
pinch ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
salt and pepper, to taste

Puree tomatoes in a food processor or blender and strain to remove seeds. Puree the pulp with onion until smooth. In saucepan over medium heat, add remaining ingredients, stirring to mix well. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Continue cooking about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until ketchup thickens and is reduced to about 1 1/3 cups. Cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.

PICKLING IS A GREAT KITCHEN SPORT AND EVERYONE IS A WINNER

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