Our garden has just begun producing its first fruits. Cucumbers, mostly. Lots of them. So what do you do with an abundance of cukes?
Well, I do anyways.
Yeah, I might end up wasting some of my crop trying something we decide we don’t like. But you don’t know ’til you try, right? So, I figure, since we aren’t really depending on surviving solely on our cucumber harvest, I have a chance to try several new pickle and relish recipes to see which ones my family likes best.
First though, I wanted to put up some more sweet pickle relish. I’ve realized how much we use it making chicken salad, tuna salad, etc. and I’m almost out of what I canned last year.
But a problem arose when I realized I didn’t have the fresh green peppers or celery that the recipe calls for. And you hate to drive to the store for two things. I did, however, have dehydrated green peppers and celery I’d dried last year. So, I decided to try substituting these instead to see how it would turn out. If it would work it would save me some grocery money, since my garden doesn’t have fresh peppers and celery at the same time cucumbers are coming in and I’d have to buy them.
I wasn’t exactly sure how much of each would equal a whole pepper and a whole rib of celery, so I just kinda guessed. I used 16 pieces of dried pepper in the place of two whole green peppers, and I used 12 pieces of celery for one rib.
I decided not to rehydrate the veggies before mixing them in. The recipe I was following required the cucumbers, peppers, and celery to soak in salt water for 5 hours, so I figured that would be perfect for rehydrating them. Plus, I was afraid if I rehydrated them, then soaked for that long, they might just become mush.
I needed them to be in small pieces instead of long pieces, so I put the peppers and celery into a food processor. The peppers ground up nicely into an almost powder. I dumped this into the cucumber mix to soak. The dehydrated celery was a bit rubbery though, and refused to be chopped. I put them into a bowl of water to rehydrate, thinking they might slice easier this way. After a little while, I tried chopping them again, but it was no good. I decided to dump the celery and the water it had soaked in (for flavor) into a blender to see if it might do the trick.
Fortunately, it worked! I poured the watery celery blend into the cucumber mixture and let it all sit for the recommended 5 hours.
The rest of the process was as per directed. Once all was said and done, I conducted a taste test. I sampled some of the relish I’d canned last year, then I tried the fresh batch. And guess what… it worked! The experimental relish was just as good as the one made with all fresh produce.
Isn’t that great!?
I’m so glad to know I won’t have to spend extra money on the ingredients I will need to make more of this! From now on, if I don’t have fresh, it’s to the pantry I go for this recipe!
Have you ever tried canning dehydrated foods?