Relish is the condiment of harvest season. Coming from the Old French reles, meaning “something remaining,” it’s what we do with the leftover portions of our garden’s yield.
The bumpy ends and straggly bits of our prize cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage, you name it, and you can chop it, cook it, pickle it and jar it up into delicious relish. With a long shelf life once properly canned, the fruits (and veggies) of our labour enliven winter meals while adding extra nutrition.
When your average Newfoundlander thinks relish, the cucumber based sweet pickle relish found in the Heinz squeeze bottle tends to be the vision in their head, likely slathered alongside mustard on a hotdog. This popular relish enjoys a bigger market share on the rock than it does in most of Canada, possibly because of our undying love for fried fish.
Tartar sauce is really just mayo and relish mixed. Sweet pickle relish is also great in tuna salad or meatloaf. Ernest Hemingway mixed a dollop into his burger patties.
The world of relish is bigger than this though. Of all condiments, this is the one to explore. Chow-chow, a favourite Southern US relish, contains such seasonal treats as green tomatoes, various beans, cabbage, summer squash, and cauliflower.
It’s a favoured topper for pulled pork, cornbread, chili, greens, and ham. The standard burgers and dogs make the list, as do turkey sandwiches. Sweet and hot versions are available, but the best way to try it is to make it yourself.
Achar, an ubiquitous South Asian relish, consists of chopped fruits and veggies pickled in oil or brine with spices like mustard, fenugreek, chili and turmeric. Achar may be made of lime, mango, carrot, radish, ginger, rose, rhubarb, pretty much anything that grows from the dirt.
There are an endless number of regional varietals, including achars with pickled meats or seafood like prawns. Eggs are a natural pair with achar, as are hearty breads, charcuterie , roasted meats and grilled cheese sandwiches. Mix it with yogurt as a dip.
Gin brings relish to life, accentuating its tangy, pickley, briny nature, while offsetting any sweetness or heat. Different gins speak to different styles of relish. A spicy rose and mango achar will pair well with Hendricks dominant rose and cooling cucumber notes.
Beefeater London Dry’s juniper and citrus approach is classic, enjoy with tonic and some Hemingway inspired burgers or high quality hot dogs. Uncle Val’s Peppered Gin is a hit with chow-chow and chili, and Newfoundland Distillery Co.’s Seaweed Gin is a natural complement for prawn or mussel achar.
Bonus round. Gin, vermouth , Campari , partridgeberries, and orange zest make a delicious Negroni Berry relish.