Surely almost every culture on Earth has a pickle (or, sometimes a fermented food) that serves as a gentle bass line to the melody of the meal - a taste that is part of the food though never its focus. Often this is something that has been passed down through the family, or friends, or perhaps a familiar food conveyor. Once you have become accustomed to that little assist, the food never tastes quite right without it. The jar is there in your pantry, and you reach for it without much of a second thought.
|Green Tomato Relish, ready for the shelf|
I learned to eat "piccalilli" that was made by the parents of family friends. We were gifted with a jar each fall as the senior Whitworths cleaned out their fall garden and the green tomatoes, peppers and onions went into the mix. I came to love this mixture as a child, especially on hamburgers. Later, I combed through recipes until I found one in Joy of Cooking that seemed to match my memory. (The elderly gardeners were long since dead and gone. The lesson is, always ask for the recipe.)
|Use enough red bell peppers to add a color note.|
|Sliced, salted, drained vegetables|
The next step is to place them in the pickling mixture to cook until they are transparent. Then they are ready for canning. Some people might keep them in slices, but I put them through a food processor briefly to make a relish. (Be careful not to purée them.)
Measurement note: tomatoes are often sold in farmers' markets by volume rather than by pound. A peck (8 quarts) is about 16 pounds. I find that a half peck makes enough relish for several years.