I wanted to experiment with pickles, and the July Can Jam challenge’s focus on zucchini was going to give me a great opportunity. Zucchini is coming into the farmers markets and grocery stores, and the simple zucchini relish recipe in the 75th Anniversary Ball Blue Book from 2009 seemed like the perfect chance to try pickles.
Then, after I tried the relish – well, my pickling skills need work. I must have done something wrong, but the relish isn’t the crispy hot-sweet relish I was aiming at. It’s kinda mushy – so maybe I cooked it too long? Not sure, but not the taste or texture I wanted – a pickle relish ##fail.
But this recipe for Watermelon Jam, which I first published as part of my 12 Jams of Christmas series, is the freshest tastes of summer in a jar, as any good jam should be. So when I experienced my pickle relish #fail, I went back to my roots, to a tried and true, simple and to the point jam recipe. I know – from me. I am just full of surprises this month.
This recipe was inspired by an Indian foods blog written by Chandrika and called AkshayaPatra. Chandrika’s recipe makes a very small batch, although it can easily be doubled. The key to this jam recipe is that it’s proportional: for each 2 lbs. of fruit pulp, you’ll need 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice. Because it’s summer and basil is also just coming in bunches to stores and farmers markets, I used a tablespoon of minced fresh basil leaves in this version.
I used what Wegmans calls a ‘personal watermelon’ — a perfect dark green sphere less than 8″ diameter, seedless and organic. The jam is thick, brilliant red. Two pounds of watermelon will make up into about 1 cup (the watermelon will cook down quite a bit as it cooks to the jellying point.)
2lbs watermelon pulp (remove pulp from rind and seed the chunks)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest (zest from about half a lime)
- Remove the watermelon pulp from the rind and cut it into chunks. Seed the melon if seeds are present.
- Mix the salt and sugar together, and stir into the melon pulp.
- Stir the lime juice, zest and minced basil together, and then combine them with the melon mixture. Simmer about 15 minutes until the sugar has dissolved in the juice. To help break down the melon pulp, mash it in the saucepan with an immersion blender.
- Continue to to simmer the melon-sugar mixture until it thickens and easily coats the back of a metal spoon. You can also test the jam for consistency using a spoonful of jam placed onto a very cold (frozen) plate.
- Ladle the hot jam into sterilized jam jars and process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner according to USDA directions for canning. Alternately, allow the jam to cool in the containers and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks, or freezer for up to a year.
Makes about 1 cup or two half-cup containers of jam.
As for that zucchini pickle relish recipe – here it is. I’m sure there will be enough zucchini around this summer for me to try my hand at it again and make it work. But right now, I’ve got three pounds of sugarplums to turn into jam.
Zucchini-Poblano Pickle Relish
(this recipe was adapted from the larger quantity recipe that appears on the Ball canning and preserving site, and from the recipe that appears in the 2009 Ball Blue Book.)
3 cups finely chopped zucchini (about 3 medium)
1 cup finely chopped onions (1 medium)
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 poblano peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon Ball® Preserving & Pickling Salt
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup white vinegar
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 Tbsp prepared horseradish
5 (4 oz) half-cup glass preserving jars with lids and bands
- COMBINE zucchini, onions, red and green peppers and salt in a large glass or stainless steel bowl. Cover and let stand in a cool place (70 to 75°F) for 12 hours or overnight.
- TRANSFER to a colander placed over a sink and drain. Rinse with cool water and drain thoroughly. Using your hands, squeeze out excess liquid.
- COMBINE zucchini mixture, sugar, vinegar, nutmeg, turmeric, horseradish and chili pepper in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until liquid is reduced and mixture is the consistency of a think commercial relish, about 45 minutes.
- PREPARE boiling water canner in the meantime. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
- LADLE hot relish into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot relish. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
- PROCESS in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude*. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups of relish, enough for five 4-oz jars (5 half-cups)