Sweet & Spicy Chop Pickle

05aChopPicklebfLOMy grandmother, Rachel, made her own pickle relish (she called it ‘chop pickle’) from veggies grown in her garden. I never got her recipe, but this one comes close, yielding a sweet relish of cucumber, onion, red and green bell peppers, but… I’ve added a bit of heat and smoke in the form of crushed red pepper and Aleppo pepper – two zippy little seasonings that I am not certain of which Rachel would entirely approve.

But I certainly do, as do my friends, one of whom ate a whole jar in one day.

•6 cups chopped cucumber
•4 cups diced green pepper
•2 cups diced red pepper
•2 cups diced sweet onion
•4 cups cider vinegar, divided
•2 cups sugar
•2 tbsp pickling salt
02bAddVinegarbfLO•2 tbsp mustard seed
•1 tsp celery seed
•2 tsp red pepper flakes
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper

Note: I used tiny cukes from a local farm stand. If you’re using regular cucumbers, you might want to slice them in half and seed them before chopping.

This recipe will yield eight or nine half pints.

Stir the cucumber together with the onion, green and red pepper in a large, non-reactive (stainless steel, enamel, or anodized aluminum) pot.

02eDrainbfLOAdd two cups of the cider vinegar, stir to mix, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 or 40 minutes, until the veggies have cooked down and cooking liquid has reduced by about 1/3. I ended up simmering mine for the full 40 minutes.

Drain the veggies, discarding the simmer liquid, and return to the pot.

03aAddSugarSeasoningsbfLOAdd the remaining two cups of cider vinegar, the sugar, salt, and the seasonings.

Give a stir to mix, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes.

Remove from the heat and transfer the chopped pickle to prepared canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. I use a canning funnel, which helps to keep the rims of my canning jars from getting anything on them 03bChopPicklebfLOthat could cause a problem with the jars sealing properly. If you don’t have a canning funnel, just be sure to wipe the rims before this next step.

Add covers and secure bands ‘fingertip’ tight (screw the bands on using only your fingertips), then process in boiling water for ten minutes.

05bChopPicklebfLORemove the jars to a rack to cool, listening for the lids to “pop” – which means they have sealed. You can also check the seal by pressing the center of the lid after the jars have rested for 20 or 30 minutes. If the lid is flat and doesn’t move, your jar is sealed. If the center ‘pops’ when you press it, the jar hasn’t sealed properly. This hasn’t happened to me in forever, but usually placing the jar back into the boiling water for another cycle will take care of it.

Label and stash in a cool, dark space until needed.

Note: if your canning jars come out of the boiling water with a milky film on them, simply add a cup or two of white vinegar to the boiling water, that should dissolve any and all mineral problems.

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