I know. That sounds really bizzare, doesn’t it? But, I gotta tell you … it’s actually some pretty creative canning. In fact, it’s so creative … it’s even based on a recipe from the Creative Canning website!
The process is pretty simple. I didn’t have the exact same vegetables that CC’s recipe called for (no carrots), but I had enough on hand to substitute. I shredded:
- one large head of green cabbage
- two large green bell peppers
- one large red onion
- about a dozen small red and yellow peppers
Sure, I didn’t follow the Creative Canning recipe exactly. I used a heavier mix of things other than cabbage in my coleslaw–more peppers and onions for sure–as well as just more overall of everything. I basically worked with what I had in the house, using the look of it to see how much of each thing I needed to add beyond the pale green of the cabbage. I had the opportunity–and the extra veggies on hand–so I just basically worked toward a nice mix of colors overall.
Don’t let the name “coleslaw” fool you. We’re basically making pickles in disguise here! Pickles aren’t jams or jellies that require exact measurements to gel properly or breads that need X and Y in precise proportions to turn out right, so there’s a certain amount of flexibility available to you here. In pickles, the only real requirements are a good vinegar–one that’s at least 5% acidity–along with veggies that will taste good pickled, and that can hold up structurally in that acidic environment. Beyond that, use your imagination! I could easily see some dark green broccoli or maybe even shredded brussel sprouts in this mix, pure white cauliflower, red cabbage, or any number of other beautiful veggies.
You’ll see all my pretty colors in a minute
Once I had all my veggies shredded, I tossed them with about two tablespoons of kosher salt–rather than the one the recipe called for–because I had more veggies overall than the original recipe. Then I allowed them to soak for about an hour. This process pulls part of the water out of the veggies, basically making them thirsty on a cellular level … and ready to drink in the pickling brine you’re getting ready to pack them in. As you explore various pickling recipes yourself, you’ll find it’s a common step … further validating my statement about pickled coleslaw really being a pickle in disguise.
When my alarm went off at the end of an hour, I decided that–since I’d added an extra bit of salt–my coleslaw may need a little bit of rinsing, just to be sure it wasn’t too salty in the end. Don’t worry. You can’t rinse it all off. A lot of it’s no longer on the surface of the vegetables. It’s been absorbed into the veggies themselves, thanks to cellular osmosis … so I poured about a cup of warm water over the top of my bowl of slaw, tossed the shredded veggies around for a couple of minutes with my hands, and then drained it. Excess salt problem solved
Next, I needed to address my spices. Since I was planning to go with a sugar-free, Splenda-sweetened version of the canned coleslaw, I wasn’t going to need to make a syrup … so I decided to just mix my spices straight into my shredded and salted veggies
If you’ll notice in the CC recipe, they use mix of 3/4 teaspoon celery seeds to 1 teaspoon mustard seeds … so I used that same basic ratio to season my shredded veggies. Since I also had more cabbage, onions, and peppers than the original recipe called for, I just basically eyeballed the amount of spices I needed to add. I started with the 3/4ths and one teaspoons full first, measured them out and mixed them in, and then I estimated from there how much more I needed to add to bring the visual mix up to where it needed to be, based on how much spice per veggies I have in things like bread and butter pickles. In fact, this recipe is really close flavor-wise to classic bread and butter pickles … so that’s a big part of why I thought it could make excellent coleslaw!
Here’s where I finally remembered to take a picture, so you can see how my overall mix looked in the end.
From there, I started packing it into wide-mouthed pints.
I packed all the slaw into wide-mouth pints, making sure to press it in tightly, and to leave about 3/4ths of an inch of headspace overall. From there, I added three heaping tablespoons of Splenda (the big bag, measure-for-measure kind) on top of each jar.
Yes, I just spoon it on. Splenda has one major advantage over using sugar: it melts instantly! Therefore, there’s no need to make a syrup in advance with Splenda.
The CC recipe uses a vinegar and water mix, but I decided to just cut to the chase and use full-strength white vinegar instead. Why? A couple of reasons. One, I want the best preservation possible, and that means keeping my acidity high. The vinegar I was getting ready to use for this project was the last of a gallon I’d bought at the end of last year. It wasn’t really old, but–at the same time–there could have been some loss of acid over all that time. So I decided to not dilute it … just in case! And two, I plan to drain and even possibly rinse my slaw first, before I mix it with mayonnaise to eat. That means the extra vinegar won’t be an issue taste-wise either.
By this point, I was only heating the vinegar (without sweetener or spices in it) so I decided to just microwave it in my Pyrex measuring cup. I heated it to almost boiling: three minutes for two cups. And, as I poured the vinegar into each jar, it melted my Splenda and took it down into the jar with it. Don’t believe me? Watch!
From there, cleaned my jar lips, topped each jar with a two-part lid, and then processed it in a Boiling Water Bath for 15 minutes.
It looks great, doesn’t it?
According to the CC instructions, to eat … you drain your slaw–rinse it if you like–then mix it with a couple of tablespoons of mayo to serve.
We’ll be putting those directions to the test this weekend. It’s Labor Day, and we plan to do the traditional burgers on the grill at least once … so I already know what I’m serving with them