About a year after Mr. H. and I bought our summer home (900 square feet packed with family), a new neighbor moved in.
Eddie was from Louisiana; and when I say Louisiana, I mean bayou. And when I say bayou, I mean swamp. And when I say swamp, I mean his family were crabbers.
Eddie was a prince among men and would do anything in the world for you (and often did). He was a welder by trade, could fix anything and made the most interesting art objects. But Eddie also made wonderful crab cakes.
He would go to Louisiana a couple of times a year to visit his family, and when he returned home he would bring back mounds of crab. He would spend hours picking through the crab and then make several pounds of crab cakes. He would freeze them, bag them up and share them with his neighbors.
Those crab cakes were the best I have EVER had.
One day, Eddie invited Mr. H. and me to his home for a crab cake cooking class. (I’ll share the recipe as soon as I can find me some lump crab as good as the crab Eddie brought from home.) As long as we were making crab cakes, he thought we just might like to sample a couple (yes…yes).
So he cooked some up and then served them with a wonderful sauce. He told me this was his Mom’s Piccalilli sauce. OMG. I have never ever tasted anything as wonderful as Eddie’s Mom’s Piccalilli…
I really didn’t have to say anything. Eddie could tell that I was enjoying myself (the groans were a dead give-away).
He went to his pantry and brought out another jar of Piccalilli that he handed to me. He said, “Well, if you enjoy it so much, I’d be proud if you would take this”. Oh my. A full jar of Piccalilli. I was in heaven.
I thanked Eddie and asked him if his Mom “put up” (that’s canning talk) several jars of Piccalilli every year. In a very low voice, Eddie told us his Mom had passed away the previous year. This was his last jar of Piccalilli sauce.
Oh my. I handed the jar back to Eddie and told him I wouldn’t think of taking his last jar. He wouldn’t take it. He said he was so glad that we enjoyed it and really wanted us to take the Piccalilli home to enjoy. We went back and forth for some time, but ultimately I left Eddie’s home with his prized jar of Piccalilli.
I made that jar last as long as I possibly could, but finally all I had left was the juice.
Over the years, I have thought about Eddie’s Piccallili. I had written down the ingredients (as much as I could figure them out) and had always intended to try to recreate Eddie’s Mom’s Piccalilli.
This year, we had a bumper crop of green tomatoes (meaning, the weather turned chilly before the entire crop came in).
More than enough green tomatoes for Eddie’s Piccalilli. (Now known as PiccaJilly)
And so, I share with you PiccaJilly.
I am also sharing with you my brand new, recently installed recipe widget (that’s programmer talk for incredibly amazing program that allows me to put a recipe in the blog so that you can easily print it out. The programmers are brilliant. Just brilliant).
Piccalilli (green tomato relish)
- 5 cups coarsely chopped green tomatoes (5 - 6 large)
- 5 cups coarsely chopped cabbage (1 cabbage is enough)
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (sweet onion would be best, but yellow is okay)
- 2 cups finely chopped green pepper (about 4 peppers, but at least one should be red)
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1/3 cup Kosher salt (or pickling salt)
- 2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
- 1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
- 1 Tbsp. yellow mustard seed
- 1 tsp. celery seed
- 1 1/2 tsp. whole allspice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (this adds a nice zing, but it's optional)
- 2 tsp. whole black peppercorn
- Presenting....the ingredients. Missing from this picture are the red peppers, allspice and cinnamon. I didn't even realize it until I was putting this together!!
- Gather all the equipment you will need before you start: Canning kettle, tongs to pull the canning jars out of the hot water bath, a funnel to help guide the piccalilli into the jar, a magnetic wand to pull the lids out of the boiling water.
- Sterilize all of your canning jars, rings and lids. Either use the sanitize function on your dishwasher, or boil them in water.
- Keep the lids and rings in hot water on the stove until you need them.
- Slice and chop the green tomatoes. Try not to think about Fried Green Tomatoes. I dare you.
- Chop the cabbage. Discard the hard white core. You won't like it in your Piccalilli. I promise you.
- Chop the green pepper.
- Chop your red pepper. Funny. I thought for sure I had taken a picture of the chopped red pepper. But, you know what I mean. Just look at the chopped green pepper and do the same thing with his red cousin....
- Chop the onions. No crying...
- Mince the garlic. Have you noticed that I don't have tip on my knife? I broke it off about 35 years ago. I was trying to pry apart some frozen chicken Not a great idea. Still...I LOVE this knife.
- After all the vegetables are all chopped, put in them a bowl and add the salt.
- Toss the vegetables so the salt is mixed in thoroughly.
- Cover the vegetables and place in your refrigerator for a couple of hours.
- This is just enough time for a mani/pedi, or perhaps two episodes of Real Wives of something or other, or ... if you must ... a couple loads of laundry.
- After two hours, drain the vegetables and rinse them thoroughly.
- In a large nonreactive kettle, bring the vinegar, brown sugar and all of the seeds and spices to a boil.
- You really need to be sure to use a non-reactive pan and bowl. How can you tell?
- If you are lucky, your pan or bowl will be labeled.
- If you aren't so lucky, you can use a magnet. I used a lovely magnet lovingly created by Grand-daughter Luci. The pan is aluminum, so I had to use another.
- Reduce heat to medium low and continue simmering for 5 minutes. Add the drained vegetables and bring back to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- With a slotted spoon, pack the vegetables into prepared jars.
- I use this handy dandy wooden tool to push the vegetables into the jar. It began it's life as a muddler and has made some lovely mojitos in it's time.
- Cover vegetables with the pickling liquid, leaving about 1/4-inch headspace.
- With a clean dampened cloth, wipe the rims of the jars.
- Place the flat lids on the jars then close caps with screw-on rings tightly, but do not over-tighten.
- Use your magnetic wand to fish the hot flat lid out of the pot.
- Arrange the filled jars in the canner and add more water, as needed, to be at least 1 inch above the jars. Bring to a full boil. Cover and continue boiling for 10 minutes.
- Remove the relish to a rack to cool completely. Check the seals, The middle of the caps should have made a popping sound while cooling and will stay depressed.
- If you are a canner, you know that this is one of the loveliest sounds. When every jar pops, you can rest easily. If not...you will have a lot of relish to use in the next few days.
- The final product, standing at attention. Seriously, don't you love the labels?
- You can serve this with pork or ham, and absolutely you must have this with crab cakes. I love, love, love it with black eyed peas. You can also mix this with cold (cooked) quinoa - a great salad..