Relish refers to any cooked or pickled product made as condiment or salsa that is made from chopped vegetables and fruits mixed with herbs and spices, like chow-chow, giardiniera, and chutney. A bottle or jar of relish usually contains liquid or sauce, although the liquid or sauce is seldom or rarely used by consumers. In North America, relish pertains specifically to finely-chopped pickled cucumber.
Relish comes in different forms – pickles, salsa, fresh salad, paste, stew or ragout, or sauce. The taste varies from sour, spicy, and sweet-and-sour.
- The name of the Mexican relish pico de gallo translates to “rooster’s beak” in English.
- Relish ranks as among the top-selling condiments in the world.
- Ajika, a kind of relish originating in Georgia, has become very important and very prominent in the culture of Georgia, that it is now included in the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Georgia list starting in 2018.
- The ingredients of relishes are not limited to fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. Muhammara, a relish from Syria, uses breadcrumbs as well.
- If you are wondering why lecsó is very popular in Hungary, it is because the ingredients of this relish are peppers, tomatoes, and paprika, which are three favorite ingredients of Hungarians (paprika is Hungary’s national spice).
Relish Buying Guide
Where to buy relishes? Your first stop should be the supermarket or grocery. You should find bottles and jars of relishes in the condiment aisle. If it is not available there, look for specialty stores, the farmers market, or local artisanal relishes made in small batches. You can also buy online which is convenient, but buying from the store is still better because you can inspect the product before you pay for it.
Relishes are in stock all year long, so there is no need to hoard and buy large quantities unless it is necessary (i.e. for catering, cooking for several guests, using them as gifts or giveaways, etc.)
If this is your first time buying relish and you don’t know which brand to buy, ask family and/or friends for recommendations or read online reviews, specifically about the brands available in your area. Prioritize buying locally-made products.
When buying a bottle or jar of relish, make sure to check the expiration date or best-before date. Check the packaging for signs of tampering or product safety issues. The safety and quality of the product may have been compromised during transport and handling. In any case, do not buy relish with damaged packaging. Report this to the store attendant so that it is checked, and if necessary, removed from the shelf to avoid having customers less attentive to details buy it.
Relish Production & Farming in Texas
There are many different kinds of relishes made and sold in Texas, usually those that require ingredients that are available in the state all year long. If you are in Texas, you can find branded or homemade relishes in groceries, supermarkets, farmers markets, or specialty food stores. Here are some of the types of relishes common in Texas:
Pickled Cajun quail eggs
Bread and butter pickles
Fermented spicy carrots
Green tomato relish
Honey and jalapeno pickles
Spicy dill pickles
Spicy pickled green beans
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
Many homemade or artisanal relishes promise all-natural ingredients.
Many kinds of relishes undergo commercial pickling processes which include using preservatives. Below are some of the preservatives that you may find in your relish.
- Sodium benzoate is added to improve the shelf life of the product.
- Alum is used to make the texture of the pickled vegetables crispy. This food additive is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
- Sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite are used to help preserve the pickled vegetables inside the glass bottle.
- Sodium chloride is used for preservation and to improve the taste of the relish.
- Citric acid is used to boost the acidity or the sour flavor of the relish.
There are different kinds of relishes and these have origins in different parts of the world.
- Kyopolou is a common relish in Bulgaria and Turkey made from eggplants and garlic.
- Adjika is from the Republic of Abkhazia. Unlike other relishes, adjika has many ingredients: tomatoes, carrots, peppers, apples, hot chili peppers, as well as vinegar, oil, salt, and sugar.
- Ajvar, which is made from sweet bell peppers and eggplants, is popular in Southeastern Europe.
- Achar is a south Asian pickle from India. Several variations contain different ingredients.
- Atchara is from the Philippines and is made from grated papaya.
- A Swedish company owns the trademark for Bostongurka, a relish made from pickled gherkins, red bell pepper, and onions.
- Chakalaka is from South Africa. The ingredients vary, but mostly, you can expect to see beans, cabbage, butternut, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and curry paste.
- Chow-chow is a kind of pickle relish popular in North America.
- Chrain comes from Jewish and Slavic cuisines. This relish is made from grated horseradish.
- Chutney is a tomato relish from India.
- Ćwikła is a Polish relish made from shredded beets and horseradish.
- Doenjang is from Korea. It is a fermented bean paste that is sometimes used as a relish. Another relish from Korea is kimchi relish.
- The Gentleman’s Relish is a commercial brand from the UK. It contains anchovies, butter, herbs, and spices.
- Giardiniera originated in Italy. This Italian relish is made of different pickled vegetables pickled using either vinegar or oil.
- Lecsó is from Hungary. The ingredients include peppers, tomatoes, onions, and garlic.
- Ljutenica is a kind of relish typical in Bulgarian, Macedonian, and Serbian cuisines made using peppers, aubergines, carrots, garlic, vegetable oil, sugar, salt, and tomatoes.
- Kachumbari is from Africa, made with chopped tomatoes, onions, and chili peppers. Unlike other relishes that are bottled or jarred, kachumbari is made fresh.
- Kuchela is a spicy relish originating from Trinidad and Tobago. It also goes by the names kucheela and kuchila.
- Mango pickle is popular in South and Southeast Asia, made from mango and with a selection of spicy ingredients.
- Mostarda di frutta, or just simply mostarda, is from Italy. This relish is made of candied fruits and mustard-flavored syrup. This is paired with meat and cheese.
- Muhammara, also called red pepper relish, is from Syria. Aside from red bell peppers, it also contains walnuts and pomegranate molasses.
- Matbukha comes from Maghreb. This is made with tomatoes and roasted bell peppers seasoned with garlic and chili pepper.
- Pebre is a relish originating from Chile. It is made with coriander, chopped onion, olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, and spicy aji peppers.
- Piccalilli is from Britain, made with chopped and pickled vegetables and spices.
- Pickled cucumber is known by different names; pickle in the US and Canada, gherkin in Britain, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand. This is a simple relish made with cucumber and brine.
- Pico de gallo is from Mexico. This is made from tomatoes, onions, serrano peppers, jalapeños, salt, lime juice, and cilantro.
- Pindjur is a relish from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Serbia and North Macedonia. The ingredients of pindjur include red bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, vegetable oil, and salt.
- Vinagrete, also called molho campanha is from Brazil and this is made with chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, olive oil, vinegar, parsley, sweet peppers, and salt.
- Zacuscă is popular in Romania and Moldova. This is made using any or all of these ingredients: eggplant, onions, tomato paste, pepper, mushrooms, carrots, celery, bay leaves.
Relishes are sold in glass bottles or jars with a lid secured by a safety and quality seal. The glass bottle or jar is usually transparent so that you can see the product inside. It adds to the product’s potential to be appealing; appearing delicious encourages the shopper to buy it. An important part of the packaging is the label, which contains all the important information the consumer needs to know – the name of the company of the manufacturer, best before date, nutritional data, storage instructions, the place where it was made and bottled, bar code, etc.
Relish is not the primary food; you eat relishes in small quantities. You can use relish as a bread spread, dip, condiment, or side dish. When eating a relish, you will notice that it has a strong flavor. That is necessary because that strong flavor is meant to enhance or complement a kind of food that tastes better with relish. A hotdog sandwich, for example, has a particular taste when hotdog, bun, ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard are combined. But it will taste better if you add the relish.
Different kinds of relishes require different kinds of storing methods and conditions. Here are some of the general rules to follow. If it is store-bought, read the storage instructions so that you’ll know if it needs to be refrigerated or if it is shelf-stable even after opening. The smart move is to refrigerate. Do not store it with the container open and without a lid; storing it like this may cause the relish to go bad even if refrigerated. It may absorb the smell of the other items in the refrigerator. If the relish is shelf-stable, do not store it where it is exposed to direct sunlight or where it is too hot. High temperature may affect the quality of the relish, even cause it to go bad.
Make your own homemade lecsó
Lecsó is a versatile, delicious, and nutritious food. You can have this for lunch or dinner by itself or eat it with bread. Lecsó is also great with meats. Having lecsó as a side dish or relish will definitely make your meal more delicious, more appetizing, and more filling. To make lecsó at home, you will need 15 minutes of prep time and 45 minutes of cook time.
Yield: This recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.
- 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 1 onion, sliced thinly
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon paprika
Step 1. Start with sautéing the onions in oil over low heat for 5 minutes.
Step 2. Add the bell pepper strip and cook for 15 minutes.
Step 3. Add the rest of the ingredients: tomatoes, sugar, salt, and paprika. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes. Make sure to stir occasionally.