Since moving from Hawaii to Orlando, there's been one familiar pattern I keep repeating to myself, "I miss the food back home."
Fortunately I inherited my mom's old cookbook collection and her love for cooking. When I lived in Hawaii I could go almost anywhere and buy food that filled the need.
Now that I'm in Orlando, where there's no Chinatown (just a small section of Asian markets and restaurants), and a city full of what we called, 'mainland food' - chain/franchise restaurants with little uniqueness to it.
I have finally been forced to think outside of the box and make some of the things that I could easily find in supermarkets back home. This is my mom's modified version (with not so local Hawaii ingredients), except the Hawaiian Sea salt. I do grow some of my own carrots, onions and cucumbers in my community garden so that's another reason to start pickling, however they are still growing as I write so the next batch will be totally homemade!
Pickling is basically salting a vegetable or fruit with rock salt overnight and then adding a pickling juice you create yourself. In this recipe, Hawaiian rock salt is excellent as it marinates well and draws out the water from the vegetable.
This is a simple pickling liquid recipe that my mom used and modified over the years, I love that hand writing is in the cookbooks on how she modified recipes. It can be used with any of your favorite vegetables. The pictures below are of cucumbers, carrots and sweet onions. You can use 3 lbs of one vegetable like cucumbers or all onions, or a combination of 1 lb each of cucumbers, carrots, onions as in this example.
Sweet Pickled Vegetable Ingredients
- 1 lb sliced cucumber
- 1 lb sliced carrots
- 1 lb or 2 medium to large size sweet round onions
- ¼ cup Hawaiian salt (or any rock or sea salt)
- 1-2/3 cups white sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1-1/4 tsp. whole celery seed (optional)
- 1 tbsp. whole mustard seed
- ¼ tsp. paprika (optional)
- Season with fresh or dried Hawaiian red chilies – whole or chopped (hotter when cut)
- 2 quart glass mason jars with new sealing tops
See photos of how to slice the vegetables for pickling.
Cucumbers and carrots should be prepared by remove some or all of the skin, slice in half lengthwise than cut in bite size pieces.
Onions can be prepared the same way as bite size pieces by cutting the ends off, remove onion paper, cut in half and again into about eight sections, depending on how large or small your onion is. Because this is a sweet pickle, any variety of onion is fine but sweet onions were used in this recipe.
Directions on How to Make Your Own Sweet Pickled Onions, Carrots, and Cucumbers
- Place the sliced vegetables in a colander and then another large bowl to catch any liquid. Place ¼ cup Hawaiian salt and mix into vegetables, let sit for 3 hrs (or overnight) in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap.
- Prepare the mason jars by following directions for sterilization in boiling water – right before you are ready to place vegetables into the bottles.
- Remove the vegetable container from refrigerator and squeeze out any liquid from the vegetables, while still in the colander. Dump out the liquid from the bowl, place vegetables evenly into the two quart bottles, be sure to keep bottles and caps clean and sterilized. Its okay to press the vegetables down into the bottle but don’t fill it too full as you will need space for the pickling liquid.
- In a pot add water, sugar, vinegar and bring to a boil, stir until the sugar dissolves. When it boils, add the paprika, celery seed and mustard seed.
- Add the liquid mixture to the vegetables in the sterilized jars.
- Place the sealing lid and cap on the bottle while hot, press down on the top to seal in the pickled vegetables and liquid.
- Turn the jar upside down to be sure the liquid goes through all of the vegetables. Leave the bottles alone for at least two days before eating. You can turn the bottles upside down and right side up for the first two or three days to be sure all ingredients are marinated in the liquid. This pickled vegetable keeps well for several months in the refrigerator. Place a label with the date and type of pickles. Enjoy!
This recipe was adapted from, “Our Favorite Recipes: Island of Maui”, published by the Maui Demonstration Council, Second Edition, 1959. *One of my mom's favorite cookbooks, you can tell from the food-stained pages and pages falling apart.
This recipe was originally posted in the Orlando Cooking Examiner by this writer.