Friday, July 4, 2014

Radicalism Revisited: Small Batch Pepper Relish

It is Independence Day, that most American of holidays, and an unwavering tie with Thanksgiving for my favorite holiday. This is not jingoism, this pairing of holidays so associated with the U.S. of A. Rather, it’s about two wonderful days with absolutely no religious association. These days are all about the food and, not incidentally, the perseverance of individuals determined to have what is increasingly disappearing from even the birthplace of it all—personal freedom and self-determination. We need that now more than ever.

So on this 4th, let’s remember that change is good. Things were never meant to be the same, and time does not rewind.  This, of course, goes for our rules of preserving, about as outdated as can be. So I refer you to one of my oldest posts, written on the 4th back in 2007, on radical preserving.  Need a pepper relish for today’s iconic and essential hotdogs?  Make it now, eat it later. Only what you need.  Only what you want.

And speaking of the value of change for the future. It is pouring here in New England today, as a weakening Hurricane Arthur approaches. Everyone has moved their celebrations to tomorrow: the weekend is supposed to be beautiful. And we will celebrate our independence to celebrate when and how we want. With hamburgers, hot dogs, and potato salad—and this relish.

A Little Red Pepper Relish

One pepper, one onion, one hour.  A singularly radical relish. Here, too, is a variation from several years ago. Makes ½ pt.

1 medium red pepper, cleaned and diced
 1 medium sweet onion, peeled and diced
½ c apple cider vinegar
1/3-scant ½ cup sugar
2 T maple syrup
1 tea coarse sea salt or kosher salt

Optional: For hot relish, add a small chopped fresh chile such as a serrano to the vegetables, or a ¼ teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes to the sugar/vinegar mixture.
Bring about 4 cups of water to a boil in a 3-qt and drop in the vegetables. Remove from the heat and let sit 5 minutes. Drain and repeat. Let the veggies drain for at least a half-hour.

Combine the sugar, vinegar, salt, and maple syrup in the pot and bring to a slow boil, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Add the drained vegetables, and cook at a medium bubble for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until a wooden spoon dragged through the center leaves a clear path for a few seconds. Ladle into a clean 8-oz jar.


racheld said...

"Pepper relish!" One of my most fondly-remembered tastes of all my canning days.

Of course, the two-bushel size, with enough onions to make you cry rivers as it was all ground through the old shiny grinder clamped hard onto the edge of the counter---that was a half-day job, from jar-washing and gathering the peppers, to the last hot jar turned upside down on a towel to seal.

My all-time favourite condiment on hot dogs (with a cup or so stirred into the beans just before baking).

We've been on the patio snapping beans (me) and shucking corn (Chris) as we "listened" to the parade pass by around the block. Shady and deliciously cool for a Fourth---77 at this minute, but probably 68 when we were outside.

The weather is odd here, in that this is the second Fourth I remember that was below 80 all day. The other one was five years ago today (I looked on my blog) and we had to wear real pants and jackets to the fireworks that night, and stand under a shop marquee to stay out of the cool drizzle.

I'm still counting on your walking out the gate with a pie in a basket for a picnic supper. Don't burst my dream bubble.

Happy Fourth!!


Jane said...

I do remember those half-day jobs myself. Never again! Or at least, unless I go commercial....

Beans and corn! We're still behind here on that, what with the brutal winter and late planting. Today is like your 4th--sunny, but cool and incredibly windy--sailors will be happy--and we will be wearing sweatshirts and pants to fireworks tonight. Happy Holiday! Pie soon.