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Pickling and Relish Pointers
Submitted by: Cricket
Pickles, relishes, and chutneys are vegetables prepared with brine (salt and water) or vinegar and some sugar and spices. The vinegar acts as a preservative, keeping any spoilage organisms from growing. Sealing pickled foods in jars and processing in a boiling water bath helps keep them fresh, crisps and free from mold. Whole, sliced, or chunked vegetables cooked in vinegar or a vinegar sugar syrup, can become pickles. Chopped or ground combinations cooked with vinegar, sugar, and spices become relishes. Chutneys are highly spiced fruit and/or vegetable combinations. The old fashioned dill pickles and sauerkraut are actually fermented in brine, rather than cooked in vinegar. The brine, plus the sugar from the cucumber or cabbage, promote a special kind of bacterial action that, over several days or weeks, changes cucumbers pickles and transforms cabbage to kraut.  Because certain ingredients are very important for proper pickling, you'll need to be aware of some of the following pointers.
Point 1:
Use produce that is as fresh as possible. Take it from the garden to your kitchen and into jars just as rapidly as possible. If you can't process the produce immediately, be sure to keep it refrigerated. Vegetables should be just barely ripe; they'll keep their shape better than if they were fully ripe. Always select cucumber varieties that have been created for pickling. The large salad cucumbers were developed for salads, not for pickles. Use smaller, less pretty cukes, with pale skins, plenty o bumps, and black spines. Never use waxed cucumbers. Select evenly shaped and sized vegetables for even cooking and better looking pickles.
Point 2:
Water is an important pickle ingredient, especially for long brined pickles. Soft water is best. Hard water can cloud the brine or discolor the pickles. If you don't have soft water, boil hard water for 15 minutes, then let it stand overnight. Skim off the scum, then carefully dip out what you need so you won't get any sediment from the bottom. Then add 1 tablespoon of salt for each gallon; or you can use distilled water if your water is hard.
Point 3:
Salt, too, makes a difference. Table salt contains special additives to prevent it from caking in your shaker, and these materials can cloud brine. Iodized salt can darken brine. use only pure, granulated salt, also known as kosher salt, pickling salt, or dairy salt. Most supermarkets stock it with canning supplies.
Point 4:
Vinegar is a crucial ingredient for many pickle recipes. Check the label when you shop, and be sure to get a good quality vinegar of from 4 to 6 percent acidity (sometimes listed as 40 to 60 grain). Weaker vinegar will not pickles foods. use distilled white vinegar for light colored pickles, cider vinegar for darker foods or more interesting flavor.
Point 5:
Sugar can be brown or white granulated, depending on the lightness or darkness of food to be pickled. Or, if you wish, use half corn syrup or honey and half sugar. Don't use sugar substitutes unless you follow their manufacturers' directions.
Point 6:
Spices must be fresh. Old spices will make your pickles taste musty. Most recipes call for whole spices, which give stronger flavor and don't color the pickles as much. It is suggested you tie the spices in a cheesecloth bag and add them to the kettle during cooking, then remove the bag before packing the pickles into jars. Some cooks like to leave whole spices in the jars for stronger flavor and just for appearance's sake, but loose spices may darken the pickles somewhat.
Point 7:.
Alum, lime, and other ingredients added to crisp or color pickles are not necessary, and their use is not recommended. These ingredients are often found in old fashioned recipes. Most of the newer recipes won't need any of these additives.

Pico de Gallo
This is a great summer relish to serve with chips, or even on a hamburger.
Submitted by: Sugie
3 large tomatoes, diced
1 large onion diced
2 tablespoons diced jalapenos
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, diced
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Mix all ingredients together in large container until well blended. Allow to sit for at least 6 hours, it is better if allowed to sit overnight.

Zucchini Relish
Submitted by: Cricket
12 cups coarsely chopped zucchini
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cups chopped green pepper
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
ice water
1 cup water
5 cups sugar
3 cups vinegar
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
Combine zucchini, onion, green pepper, garlic, and salt in a large bowl; add ice water to cover. Let stand 3 hours; drain well. Combine 1cup water, sugar vinegar, mustard seeds, turmeric, and mustard in a large dutch oven; bring to a boil. Add zucchini mixture, and boil 10 min. Quickly ladle hot mixture into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, and wipe jar rims. Cover at once with metal lids, and screw on bands. Process in boiling water bath 10 minutes. Yield : 4 quarts.

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