Getting Pickled

My Dad was interested in photography for quite a few years and he loved to take photos and have them made into slides. After he died I asked if I could have the slides and I have been going through them and scanning some for this blog. I came across the one below right and thought it was perfect for this entry. It was taken out at Uncle Gus’s camp at one of the many, many picnics we had there over the years. That’s Mom when she was probably in her late thirties and that’s a big jar of pickled eggs that she has just placed on the table. She made pickled eggs all the time and I still make them. They are wonderful and a good, protein-rich snack.

Pickled Eggs
Boil a dozen eggs (or more if you have a jar that can hold them). Peel them and pack in a large glass jar. In a saucepan mix:

1 cup white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 large onion sliced
1 cup of juice from a can of red beets
2-3 cloves (optional)
Simmer until the sugar is melted and the onions are just slightly tender. Pour over the eggs and add the beets if there is room. Store at least 48 hours before serving. You can keep them unrefrigerated for a couple days but refrigerate for longer storage — if they last that long.

Penn State Pickles
I graduated from Penn State but I don’t know where this recipe came from. I’ll bet the agricultural extension office. Mom made them pretty often and they are delicious.
Wash and cut the ends off 4 lbs. Of pickles. Cut into bite-sized chunks. In a saucepan combine:
1 quart vinegar
1 tblsp mustard seeds
3 tblsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
the cucumbers
Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes. Drain and discard the syrup. Pack the pickles into jars. In a sauce pan combine:
3 3/4 cups sugar
2 1/4 tsp celery seed
1 tblsp allspice
3 3/4 cups vinegar
Simmer 5 minutes. Pour over the pickles and process 5 minutes.

Pickled Peaches
I used to make these to give in jars as Christmas presents. In The Old Mermaid’s Tale, Clair’s mother makes them for her husband.
Scald and remove the skin from 7 or 8 slightly green peaches. Cut them into quarters and remove the seed. Stick a clove into each segment. Combine:
1 pound white sugar
1 cup white vinegar
½ cup water
2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
Boil 5 minutes and then add the peaches a few at a time until they are cooked. Spoon them into hot, sterile jars and process 15 minutes. Let stand a few weeks before serving

Beth’s Pickled Mushrooms
Beth (left) is our youngest sister. She always loved these.
Cut a thin slice off the bottom of a pound of small, fresh mushrooms. Dissolve a tblsp of salt in a quart of water and add the mushrooms. Soak 10 minutes and then drain. In a saucepan combine:
1/3 cup cooking oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 small chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
½ tsp peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt.
Bring to a boil and add mushrooms. Return to boil and then simmer 5 minutes. Cool completely then store in the refrigerator 2-3 days before serving.

Mom’s Best Dill Pickles
Mom got this recipe from a teacher at Elk County Christian High School where she worked and all of us attended high school. She says they are the very best pickles she has ever tasted or made.
Boil together:
3 quarts water
1 quart vinegar
½ cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp alum
Pack 20 to 24 small cucumbers into glass jars. Add 2 cloves of garlic and a head of dill to each jar. Pour the hot brine to fill the jars. Seal and process.

Pickled Pub Onions
Remove the skins from 2 pounds of small onions (about the size of a walnut). With a sharp knife slice off the root end and cut an X across it (this helps the onions hold together while cooking.) Press a whole clove into about half of the onions. In a saucepan combine:
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
Bring to a boil and add the onions. Simmer for 2-3 minutes but no longer. Remove onions and let them drain. Reduce the brine to 1 cup and add 1/d cup dried currants. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add 1 cup of a good, hearty red wine or port, if you prefer. Pack onions in glass jars and pour the wine sauce over them. Chill for 3-4 days before serving.



More Relishes

Ours is a family that loves relishes. There are so many recipes it amazes me. The first one is from Aunt Bonnie (below left). She is Dad’s older sister and was married to Uncle Custy(below right). Uncle Custy, whose real name was Constantine, was Italian and a great mushroom-hunter. He would take us out in the woods and he knew all the mushrooms. We would come back with a bushel basket full of delicious mushrooms. Our favorite was a type that grew in big clumps on long, slender stems with caps that came down over the stem. Mom would wash them and fry them up in butter with garlic and serve them on toast. They were incredible --- so much more flavor than commercial mushrooms! Their daughter Jean has many recipes in the cookbook but we’ll add those later.

Aunt Bonnie’s Chili Sauce
Scald and peel 25 large, red tomatoes. Chop them fine and add:
6 medium chopped onions
3 chopped green peppers
3 cups vinegar
1 ½ cups sugar
1 1/3 tblsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp dry mustard
½ tsp each ginger, cloves and allspice.
Simmer until very thick. Ladle into sterile jars and process 5 minutes.

Mom’s Fruit Relish

Peel and dice:
20 ripe tomatoes
8 very firm pears
8 firm but ripe peaches
6 large onions
1 red and 1 green pepper
Place in a large kettle and add:
4 cups white sugar
1 quart vinegar
2 tblsp salt
Spice bag containing whole cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon stick pieces and allspice to make about 2 tblsp.
Slowly bring to a boil and boil until very thick and not at all watery — about 2 hours stirring regularly.
Ladle into sterile jars and process for 10 minutes.

Dad’s Tomato Marmalade
This is excellent with any meat. If you mix equal parts of this and hearty mustard it makes a great glaze for roasts.
Peel 3 oranges and 2 lemons. Cut the peelings into very fine slivers. Combine with 2 cups water and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain.
Remove all pulp from the fruit and add it to the peelings. Blanch and peel 5 ½ pounds of tomatoes and slice.
Combine all ingredients in a kettle and mix lightly. Add a spice bag containing 5 cinnamon sticks and 1 tblsp cloves. Add 6 cups sugar and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until thick and clear. Ladle into sterile jars and seal. Process 15 minutes.

Pauline’s Green Tomato Relish
Pauline lived next door. She and Specky had three kids, Kathy, Mike and Mary Ellen. Pauline was a good neighbor, a good friend and a great blackberry picking partner. This recipe is a great way to use up green tomatoes when the season is coming to an end.
Clean and cut into manageable pieces 5 ponds of green tomatoes. Pack them into sterile jars and to each jar add 1 clove of garlic, a few slices of onion, 1 whole clove and 3-4 dill heads. Place in a large pan:
1 quart of vinegar
1 quart of water
1/3 cup salt
sugar as desired
Simmer for five minutes then pour into the jars over the tomatoes. Seal and process for 20 minutes. These are really delicious!!!

Mrs. Lemmon’s Fruited Mincemeat
When I lived in Erie, PA and worked at the diner that served as the model for the Canal Street Diner in The Old Mermaid’s Tale, Mrs. Lemmon was my neighbor. This is her recipe.
Grate the peel and remove the pulp from 3 large oranges.
Peel and chop 6 apples.
Mix with 1 cup each raisins, dried peaches and dried apricots, chopped
1 cup chopped suet
½ cup finely cut citron
1 cup grated carrots
2 tblsp cinnamon
1 tblsp mace
½ tblsp ginger
½ tblsp allspice
1 tsp cloves
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups light molasses
1 cup boiled cider
1 cup rum
1 cup brandy
Mix thoroughly and place in a container with a tight seal. Store in a cool place for at least a month before serving.

Mom’s Zucchini Relish
Mom always joked that St. Marys was the kind of town that, when you went down town in the fall, you’d better lock your car doors. Otherwise people would put zucchini in it. This is a good recipe for using up zucchini.
10 c. grated zucchini
4 c. diced onions
2 tblsp salt.
Put this in a colander int the sink and let it stand overnight. Rinse with cold water and drain well. Add:
2 1/4 cup vinegar
2 ½ cup sugar
1 tblsp corn starch
1 tsp each nutmeg, dry mustard, turmeric
2 tsp celery seed
1 each red and green pepper chopped fine
Simmer in a large kettle until very thick. Ladle into sterile jars and seal.

Colorful Pear Relish
Both Gram and Jack (below right with Dad and I in 1951) had huge pear trees in their yards. I LOVED making this and would can it in quart jars because it was so delicious it never lasted long. Gram even liked to spoon it over cottage cheese.
Put through a food chopper:

12-18 very firm pears
6 sweet onion
4 green peppers
4 red peppers
1 hot red pepper
Heat together:
1 pint cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 tblsp salt
1 tsp. Cimmanon
½ tsp each cloves, nutmeg and ginger
Add the pear mixture and slowly bring to a boil. Watch it carefully because it will seem very moist but will thicken up fast. Simmer until thick. Ladle into sterile jars and process 20 minutes.

Mom’s Pizza Sauce
This is fabulous. It is thick, spicy and delicious and can be used in lots of ways.
Cook and strain 8 quarts of peeled and chopped tomatoes. Add 4 cloves of garlic. In a kettle put 1 cup of olive oil and add 3 cups chopped onion, 2 chopped green peppers, 1-2 chopped red peppers. Add tomatoes.
Saute until soft them put through a food mill. Add:
1 ½ tsp basil
1 ½ tsp oregano
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 c. salt
8 ounces tomato paste
½ cup parmesan cheese
Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 hours being careful not to let it burn. Makes 12 pints. Ladle into sterile jars and process 10 minutes.



Pickles & Relishes

Since it’s that time of the year, when people are starting to can, I thought it would be a good time to add a few of our family’s favorite pickles and relishes.

Grandma Valentine’s Sandwich Spread
Grandma Valentine (at right with Grandpa and Dad's two oldest sisters, Aunt Viola and Aunt Bonnie) lived in a big house on Chestnut Street. It had a porch that wrapped around it with a porch swing. There were several apple trees, a beautiful crab apple tree, orange blossom bushes and a hedge of currant bushes along the back alley. I remember crawling under those currant bushes on summer afternoons and eating the currants still hot and juicy from the sun. Grandma had a huge vegetable garden and there were hollyhocks and peony bushes along the side of the house. Inside there was a pantry and she hung dried herbs in bunches inside the stairwell. I still remember opening the door to the stairs and the fragrance of herbs coming out. She had a canary that sat in the sunshine and sang all day. Her house was a good place in which to be a child.

Combine and let stand overnight:
2 qts. Ground green tomatoes
1 pt. ground onions
2 each of red, yellow and green peppers, ground
½ cup salt

Next day drain the excess liquid and place in a heavy pot. Add:
1 pt. white vinegar
2 ½ cups sugar

Bring to a boil and let simmer 20 minutes making sure it doesn’t burn. Chill thoroughly then add 9 oz yellow mustard and 1 pint salad dressing. Stir well and seal in jars.

Pretty Apple Relish
Grate coarse:
4 large Granny Smith apples
1 each large red and green pepper, seeded
1 medium onion
In sauce pan heat 1 c. vinegar, 1 1/4 c. white sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add 1 tblsp cinnamon, ½ tsp each nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Add apples, peppers and onions. Simmer 20 minutes stirring often. Add 1 cup raisins. Simmer until liquid is mostly evaporated. Ladle into clean, dry jars. Seal. Let cool and keep in reefrigerator.

Dad’s Refrigerator Pickles
4 cups sugar
4 cups white vinegar
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp dill weed
1/4 cup salt
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp celery seed
Heat together until sugar is dissolved. Add:
several cloves of garlic
several slices of onion
Pour over a gallon of thinly sliced cucumbers. Refrigerate for a week before serving.
These are very, very crisp and keep a long time in the refrigerator.

Gram’s Strip Pickles
In a large bowl combine:
10 large cucumbers, peeled, sliced and cut into strips
6 carrots, simmered for 5 minutes then peeled and cut in strips
12 red and green peppers, cleaned and cut in strips
Cover with ½ cup salt and 1 quart water and let stand overnight. Rinse and drain.
Heat to boiling:
6 cups sugar
4 cups vinegar
3 tsp celery seed
2 tsp turmeric
3 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp salt
Add vegetables. Bring to a boil again then shut off. Ladle into sterile jars and process in hot water bath.

Mom’s Chili Sauce
This is unbelievably good!
4 quarts cored and chopped tomatoes
2 cups chopped sweet red pepper
1 ½ cup chopped sweet onion
1 small pod hot red pepper
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tblsp salt
Simmer over a low heat until juicy. Increase heat and bring to a rapid boil, stirring often for 30-40 minutes until reduced by half. Fill a small cheese cloth bag with:
1 large clove of garlic
1 long stick of cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1 ½ tblsp mustard seed
1 heaping tblsp allspice
1 bay leaf
Continue to boil with spice bag added. Keep cooking down until quite thick. Stir in 2 ½ cups white vinegar and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Discard spice bag. Ladle into sterile jars and process 5 minutes. Let stand overnight before storing.

Preserved Children
This recipe was on a plaque hanging in a friend’s kitchen.
You will need:
one half dozen small children
one large field
one sunny day
2-3 small dogs
Mix the children and the dogs together. Dot them over the large field and stir in the sunny day. Sprinkle the field with flowers. Spread with a clear blue sky. Bake in the sun until brown.