Sunday, September 18, 2016

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like A Lot of Relish.....

Last Friday I decided that it was time for Pepper Relish Making Weekend.

So on Friday I drove out to the Farm Stand at Berger's Farm to see if the Red Bell Peppers were harvested yet.
The prices this year were way higher than usual at the farm, probably due to the lack of rain we've experienced here in the second half of Summer.  The late Summer crops have been lackluster at best.

They weren't selling the 'colored' peppers in bulk like in previous years but at .75¢ per pepper.  Ouch.
Only the green peppers were being sold at cheaper bulk prices.  While some of the green peppers in that bin were partially turning red there weren't enough of those to entice me to buy those peppers in bulk.

They did have a basket of "seconds" however.  These were molted red/green peppers who were "long in the tooth" and/or misshapen.  Still flavorful but just wrinkled and if served in a dish wouldn't be aesthetically pleasing but if I was going to chop them up anyway for relish it really didn't matter.

That large basket of seconds was only $4 so I bought that along with 5 "pretty" peppers for $3.75 for all 5.  Add in a peck of onions for $8 and I spent $16.25 on produce at Berger's farm.(I also bought 2 jalapenos for .25¢ each but not for using in the relish.)

Driving home, about 2 miles down from the Farm Stand I saw a white water barrel with a pepper and an arrow pointing up a house's driveway along the road, so I turned in.  Back behind this old house was a field of crops and a "Pick Your Own" business.
They had many varieties of peppers(from bell to jalapeno to cubanelle to banana to some Italian type I can't remember what it's called), as well as eggplant.
So on the hottest day in some time in these parts, and wearing a dress and not-so appropriate footwear for this sort of thing, I ended up lugging a large produce sack out into the fields to pick my own peppers at .50¢ a lb!

I lasted about half an hour at this and ended up with 14 lbs. of peppers in lovely colors of deep red, to orange to pale yellow.

The 14 lbs. for $7 total is in the red bag, the onions are in the middle, the $4 in seconds to the onions right in the photo and the pretty red/orange peppers are on the right.  2 jalapenos in the front.

Total spent on peppers and onions for relish making was $22.75.

I had enough peppers and tomatoes in the garden once I picked those for a double batch of relish.
Go me.
Cost of green tomatoes?

I spent some time Friday evening after dinner prepping peppers(coring, deseeding and slicing).

On Saturday morning bright and early the earnest work began after I set up the food processor.

Back in the old days, before I had a processor I use to hand chop all the veggies for this relish.
It took forever to do a batch that way, most of an entire day just to chop it all for a regular batch.
A double batch would have taken at least 1.5 days alone.

Now I get the chopping done in a fraction of the time, but I also do hand chop a portion of the veggies still since it makes the relish look so much nicer in the jar.

Here is the big bucket the veggies all go into with salt to soak for an hour before draining.

The rest of the supplies-vinegar, sugar, celery and mustard seeds ready to boil down into the 'sauce'.....

I had to utilize both of my large 8 quart stockpots, I had so much relish cooking!

Then the canning pot had to set to boil as I washed out canning jars, lids and rings.

Got the jars all ready(thanks to Hubs), filled and ready to go into the canning pot.  I had to process in 4 batches I had so many jars because the canner only holds 7 jars at a time.

By the end of the evening I was wiped out, my hand was sore from all that knife work, and the kitchen was a wreck but I had 16 pints and 5 quarts of relish done(plus about another pint it the fridge of "the pot dregs" to use first).  I usually make small jars of relish(for gift giving)but I couldn't find many small jars.  I suppose I've been giving the last batch I made 2 years ago away as gifts so I don't get the jars back, thus no small jars left in my supply. 8-)

And I spent most of the next day, Sunday, with my feet up, doing nothing.  I am just too old and worn out anymore to do a marathon of relish making and canning alone.

Plus I have about 8 lbs. of peppers left that I didn't use in the fridge, waiting on me to slice up to put into the freezer to use in meals this Winter.

I find I don't enjoy this sort of work much anymore in my dotage.  Maybe if I had help I wouldn't mind it so much.
This may be the last batch I make so it will have to last a good long while.



  1. If I lived closer, I would love to help. Your daughter has no interest? My step-daughter does a lot of canning, she does hot mustard, tomatoes, a variety of hot, sweet, and dill pickles. Cheryl

  2. one helped? Maybe you can hint that this is the last of relish-making until someone is free to help. That field work would have done me in! But, it looks like you are all set with relish for a while. Don't you just hate it when jars don't come back. People don't take me seriously about giving me back my jars. Later, they will say, "But, you have so many jars." Yes, I do and they will all stay here from now on. Somehow, that makes me selfish.

    I had someone want a jar of my scuppernong jelly. I gave it to her in a plastic peanut butter jar because she had three jars she would not return.

  3. You are such a hard worker. Now don't over do and get sick. We might be coming your way in October, but will be with a group maybe we can meet up. Haven't solidified plans yet. Sort of a last minute deal. I relish some of your relish.

  4. Is that a Kiwi knife in the one picture?

    My mom used to make a pepper relish similar to this, called King Oscar. I think the only difference was that she also added chopped pear to give it a natural sweetness. That stuff was GOOD. She did lots and lots of hand chopping, but also ran some of the peppers/tomatoes/pears/onions through her meat grinder just to make it easier (no processors back then). I remember the kitchen was always a mess for a couple of days while she got her relish made and canned, so can imagine what your day(s) were like.

  5. My project is applesauce. We have trees just toppling over with the weight of the fruit. I managed 7 quarts the other day, but just can't face more, because, like you, I have no help. I have the food/veggie grinder attachment for my mixer, so I only (ha, only) have to cut and cook the apples, no need to core and peel. Still, by the time the batch was in the canner, it was time to put dinner on. Funny, I spend hours canning so my family has organic, chemical free whole food, but I am so worn out at the end of the job, that I wind up too tired to care what they eat for dinner.
    I still have pole beans to pick and can, and a good three mor batches of apples to contend with. Dh asked yesterday when I was going to "do something with the rest of those apples." As I don't know your audience, I will spare you my reply.

    1. Meg B,
      I have a good imagination, so I can imagine what you said.

  6. Can you sell the stuff? I'd buy. Looks delish. Name your price.
    (I've. always found that making money soothes the tired soul. LOL!)
    I totally hear ya Sluggy.
    Every year I cook and prepare less and less and less. Enjoy it while you have it!

  7. Sluggy,
    Did you not get the memo? As we get older, we make smaller batches, not larger, killer batches.

  8. A great way to spend a Sunday in my opinion

  9. What a lot of work! I don't even enjoy cooking dinner anymore in my old age.

  10. I get tired of a massive project like this, especially since I am like you and have no help. It does look really good though. I am finding now I am more likely to do small batch canning.

  11. I can just smell the relish in your kitchen! Growing up, relish making and canning was something special I always did with my Dad. Nice find on the PYO farm, will you go back? Finally, on the remaining peppers: make some circular slices of the peppers and layer them with onions, making alternating layers. Pickle them and can for pickled peppers so that come Winter, you have a bright salad topping to replace blech tomatoes. That's what I do.


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