Vidalia Onion Relish Tutorial– guest post by Melissa McDonald

Vidalia Onion Relish Tutorial–Melissa McDonald

So today I was working on Vidalia onion relish, and thought I’d take the time to snap some pics in the process. Vidalias were $0.99/lb, so I took advantage of that and bought 10 lbs of them. My family really loves this recipe and I was waiting for a sale, so here it is. This recipe is from NCHFP, on page 8. http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/FDNS-E-43-18.pdf
vidalia onion relish

My altitude is 1160 ft, so my adjustment for this particular recipe is an additional 5 minutes added to processing time (you’ll see my clock here in a bit).

Chopped onion, that I chopped through my new chop wizard. Since this recipe requires that I “sweat” the onions with salt, I use an clean old t-shirt to gather up the pieces and drain. It just makes life easier for me.
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This recipe calls for 20 lbs of chopped onion, but I bought 10 lb., so I cut the recipe in half. Here’s where I added the salt:
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Gathering up the shirt, and squeezing a bit to let it drain.
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Instructions call for the product to be allowed to drain for 1/2 an hour, so I tie the bunch up with a produce rubber band and hang on the cabinet to let it continue draining in the sink.  Once the 30 minutes are up, I will then rinse this product several times to remove as much salt from it as I can.  That’s the one part they seem to miss in this recipe.  If you don’t, then the product will be much too salty to be palatable.  Rinse, rinse, then rinse and drain!
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The resultant “sweat” from 10 lbs of ground onions and salt. Not edible or useful, so this goes down the drain.
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Required spices…turmeric, pickling spice and mustard seed. Recipe doesn’t call for the mustard seed, but I have the option to use it, and it just makes the mix a little spicier, so I add it.
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Makeshift spicebag…circle of clean scrap quilting fabric I had laying around, so I put the pickling spice in it…
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Then tied it up with some twine.
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Entire mix and the spicebag goes into the stockpot with the chopped onions, vinegar and sugar. Also added chopped pimento the recipe calls for.
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Batch is cooking. Leave to cook for the entire 30 minutes, so the sugar gets a chance to melt and the spicebag does it’s magic. Put the heat down low and stir frequently to keep it from burning on the bottom.
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While the onions are cooking down, prep your jars and lids. I’m trying out my new set of tattler lids for the first time. (This batch is the “old style” tattler lids that will need tightened again after processing). Recipe calls for pints, but I don’t have enough available right now, so I threw in some half pints as well.
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And my old school tattler lids and gaskets I put to simmer, also.
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Once product was ready and my jars and tattler lids were at a good simmer, I pulled out a jar and dumped the water back in the canner.
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Working one jar at a time, I take a jar out, pop the funnel on the top of the jar, and start to fill.
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Debubbling the product. Debubbling is necessary to make sure most of the air is out and to prevent any sealing problems.
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Check for correct headspace. This recipe requires 1/2 inch headspace, and my debubble tool has a measuring device at the end that tells me where my product should be.
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Once all is properly filled, I wipe the rim with a paper towel soaked in a little white vinegar.
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Added a simmered tattler lid with rubber gasket, centered on the mouth of the jar, then band carefully screwed, finger-tight to the jar.
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Jar is loaded into the canner, then the process is repeated until all my product is jarred and placed in the canner. This batch produced exactly 4 pints and 4 half pints for me. (What?! That never happens! )
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Putting the lid on the canner, and cranking up the heat. Once the canner is at full, rolling boil, I set my kitchen timer on my microwave for 15 minutes, which is appropriate for my altitude.
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Once 15 minutes have passed, I shut off the flame on my stove and open the lid, allowing the jars to start cooling down on their own.
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Grabbing the rack, I pop the jars out of the water and let them rest for another 10 minutes or so.
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While jars are cooling, I carefully grab the jars with tattler lids one at a time and gently tighten the band again to assure a good seal, which is what’s required of the tattler lids. The rest are then placed on a towel and will sit here overnight. Tomorrow I will remove the bands, test the seals and reprocess if necessary. All sealed jars I will wash and dry in the sink, mark the product name and the date I canned them, then they will move into a dark, cool basement until I’m ready to use them.

Day 2. All my tattlers worked! Yay! I removed the rings, washed the jars, and wrote the product name and the date I canned them.
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The mark of a properly sealed jar. I can pick the jar up by its seal, and it will not budge.
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