When harvest season begins at the ranch, just about every day is filled with some aspect of it: picking, canning, freezing – everything involved in putting food by, as they say down here. Today: finally getting the sweet pickles chopped and into jars. The whole process to make sweet relish (or sweet gherkins) takes three days: two brines in salt water, then three turns in the sweet pickling solution. Once that’s done, remove the pickles and boil the pickling liquid for a few minutes. The pickles get a good dice, to whatever size you think is acceptable for relish. And yes, it’s done by hand for now, for however large or small a batch I happen to be making.
The relish gets packed into jars, then topped with the hot pickling liquid, making sure to get all the air bubbles (or as many as humanly possible) out. The lids go on, and it’s into the canner for a boiling water bath: here, at sea level, ten minutes for pints, and fifteen for quarts. Once the time is up, the jars come out, and it’s just a matter of waiting for the metallic POP to tell you that you have a good seal. After a cooldown, they get a tag with the date and off they go to the cold room for storage, ready to be called into duty to top hotdogs, be added to tuna or potato salad, or whatever other need beckons.