Monday, July 26, 2010

An obsession gone too far!


Last fall in Maine I bought a half-pint jar of piccalilli from this lovely man, known only as 'Dad.' It was so tasty on crackers, we quickly consumed it. And, since then, my mouth has watered for more.


So, after looking to no avail at all our local farmer's markets for a similar delight, I decided to make my own. I got out my Ball Blue Book. My copy happens to be the copy my grandmother used to use. It is dated 1932. Not going out and buying a more current copy was my first mistake.


This fantastic picture is inside the front copy of my 1932 Ball Blue Book. Doesn't she make it look civilized and simple? Not even an apron is needed!


So, I googled to find out how many green tomatoes in a peck, as that was how many the recipe called for. Google said '17, if baseball sized." Went to the farmer's market and came home with a peck of green tomatoes. And a head of cabbage, eight large onions, and a red, a yellow, and an orange bell pepper. I had to chop all those up. No, I do not have a food processor. I barely have a sharp enough knife! I chopped and I cried - very cathartic, really. This photo does not really show you how large this full bowl is. I began to worry a bit. I went to the store and bought a dozen more half-pint jars, as I've used all mine on apricot jam.

I let the chopped veggies sit overnight (as per recipe) then I drained it and put it in my biggest stockpot. Well, no I didn't.... it wouldn't all fit in my biggest stockpot, so I had to use the canner (which it filled,) then wash it out to do the canning. In addition to the veggie mix, it called for 2 quarts(!) of vinegar, brown sugar, and lots of spices, including cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, cayenne pepper, and a half-pound of mustard seeds. (Should that not have been a clue?) I wanted about 6 half-pints of piccalilli. I ended up with 13 half-pints, and 5 pints, and I had to dump about a quart, because I ran out of jars.


Does anyone want some piccalilli?

16 comments:

Valerie said...

Funny, I just got back from a lunch out w/ friends where we were talked about piccalilli! Haven't had it in ages.

K Spoering said...

That's funny, Valerie! How many times do you really talk about piccalili? Evan someone who is obsessed with it, as I have been.... not a topic that comes up often!

Trekky said...

I love piccalilli. My nan used to make a batch once a year, I remember the house smelling of vinegar for days! ;)

K Spoering said...

...and onions!

Julia Kelly said...

I never heard about it-bet it is something that needs to sit for a bit- let us know how it turns out!

Sue Schwarz said...

Think Christmas gifts, or hostess gifts.

K Spoering said...

It's a tiny bit salty for my tastes right now, Julia. I followed the recipe exactly this time. If I ever do it again, I'll cut it down to about 1/4 recipe, use less salt, and boost up the cayenne pepper just a tiny bit. (I think I'd like a bit more zing.) I had it on a burger tonight, and it was tasty!! I didn't need anything else on it.

Mary said...

Your blog made me laugh! I've never heard of picalilli but it sounds amazing. At least it tasted good - worth the effort.

Valerie said...

Well...one of the friends at lunch is a registered dietician who also has a prolific garden this year. The restaurant dish she ordered had green tomatoes in it and we were discussing the other uses for green tomatoes. So, of course picallili came up!

Now to put the 5 zucchini she gave me to use! I suggested that she use squash blossoms in some dishes to head off the zucchini proliferation!

K Spoering said...

Chocolate zucchini bread! Grandma's Ball Blue Book has NO zucchini recipes, and for squash, only 'canned' (yuch) so I'm no help, other than the bread.

girlwithglasses said...

i'm pretty sure your son would take some off your hands. ;)

K Spoering said...

Don't worry - my son WILL take some off my hands!

Sherri Woodard Coffey said...

This sounds like what we here in Texas call Chow Chow. There are some recipes here: http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,chow_chow_relish,FF.html
We also used to make tomato preserves. And, yes, that's like any other preserves that you put on toast in the morning.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure you could've put what you had left in frig and not dumped it. :)

K Spoering said...

Sherri, I've had chow-chow too, but it was a bit spicier than picallili.

I know I could have saved the bit I dumped, but I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of it!

Glynn said...

It's a shame I didn't dump all my jars on you before moving away. Fortunately, I sold them quickly in the Free Press. I'm not canning, storing, or freezing anything these days. Just feels wrong to not be putting up food! We're still eating jam from Palisade Peaches. Miss you much!

Glynn