I wanted to make a really simple relish, because I wasn't sure if the people I was planning on giving it to would appreciate something a little different. But I like plain relish, so everything is ok!
The relish wasn't actually meant to be sweet and spicy. It was an accident. A happy accident. I was really worried when I made it because I thought it was too sweet. I almost considered not giving it away, but I couldn't stand the thought of having 13 jars of relish sitting in my cupboard (All those tomatoes cost a lot of money!!).
So I took a chance. A rare chance. And decided to give out something I wasn't completely happy with (I haven't given them out yet, but you get the idea). I had a brilliant idea: If I called the relish 'sweet & spicy', then people would think that I meant to make the relish taste like that. As if I made it like that on purpose. No one needs to know that I accidentally put too much sugar and chilli in it! What a brilliant idea!
The relish was much easier to make than I had imagined it to be. Even though it's easy, don't go thinking that it's a quick thing to make. Oh no. This is the kind of thing you want to make on a day when you've got nothing else planned and would be happy to constantly watch a pot of relish for 3 hours (lucky I've got no life!).
p.s. the cute labels come from How About Orange and Creature Comforts.
Update: I just opened my last jar of this relish (6 months later) and the flavours of the relish have had a chance to mature and get to know each other a little better. After all this time, the flavours aren't so sweet and vinegar-y. They've mellowed out and taste really good. So if you can, I'd advise leaving a few jars in your pantry for a couple of months before opening them.
Sweet & Spicy Tomato Relish.
Adapted from Stephanie Alexander's "The Cooks Companion."
Makes about 3 litres.
*If you don't like your relish to be so sweet, you could decrease the sugar amount by 100g. If we're being honest, I'd definitely decrease the sugar next time. But If you like your relish sweet, then leave it as it is! It's perfect.
2 tbsp black peppercorns
3.5kg tomatoes, roughly chopped, skins removed
1kg brown onions, diced
6 garlic cloves
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
30g rock salt
500ml red wine vinegar
600-700g white sugar*
Put all ingredients except sugar into a large (very large) pot.
Bring to the boil and boil for 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
Add the sugar and boil for another 2 hours, stirring every 20 mins or so.
Use a potato masher to break up the big chunks of tomato and onion (If you have a food mill, you could use that instead).
Transfer the relish into hot, dry, sterilised jars. Cap the jars and then turn them upside-down, this creates a vacuum in the jars (I've read this in a couple of places, and it really works!).
Leave until cool before storing (and turning up the right way).