It’s canning season (the process of preserving cooked food by sealing in jars or cans). I come from a lineage of women who made their own preserves, jams, and jellies. It was the best way to enjoy the summertime produce over winter. Although in today’s world it might sound laborious and unnecessary with canned or frozen foods readily available, for me it’s a tribute to the women in my life who preserved food because it was a necessity. I vividly recall my grandmother’s cold room full of preserves, pickles, canned vegetables, onions, potatoes, and winter squash – all ready to carry her through the winter months. I enjoy serving my pickles to accompany a meal in the height of winter when the wind howls outside and the ground is buried in snow; every time a jar is opened a bit of summer shines through. There are a few steps to making mustard pickles but the end result is so worth the effort and the taste is leap years ahead of the commercial stuff.
My mom, over the years, made her fair share of preserves. It was always the first week back to school when mom started her pickles; we were out from under her feet and she could do as she pleased while we were away for those six or seven hours. As my siblings and I got off the bus we could smell vinegar in the air before we even entered the house. It was quite a shock to our senses and as I made this batch of mustard pickles it reminded me of my childhood.
3 lbs. pickling cucumbers, quartered (seeds removed)
1 lb. green tomatoes, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped (can also use green peppers)
1 lb. small white onions, quartered
1 large cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
1/2 cup sea salt
Mustard Dressing –
6 tablespoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
7 to 8 cups apple cider vinegar (can use white vinegar)
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon mustard seed (can also use celery seed)
In a large non-metallic bowl, add veggies. Sprinkle salt over and toss. Cover with cold water and let stand 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Place vegetables in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil then drain in a colander. In the same pot put flour, mustard, and turmeric. Stir in enough vinegar to make a smooth paste then add remaining vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook until thick and smooth. Add mustard seed, vegetables, and stir until heated through. Spoon into hot sterilized jars making sure to leave 1/4-inch space at the top and seal. Process in a water boiling bath for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature. You will hear the lids pop indicating an effective seal has taken place. Keep in a cool, dark place until ready to use. Once opened, place in refrigerator.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: Some cooks add a small cabbage chopped up. The key to keeping the crunch in the veggies is not over-cooking them. Enjoy!