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I grew up believing firmly in a condiment matrix. Mustard went on hot dogs, ketchup belonged to hamburgers, and relish was only applicable if I had a Dodger Dog in my hands. As I got older, I began to bend my self-imposed condiment rules and explored other applications. I discovered that mustard could also be good whisked into salad dressing and ketchup made an excellent glaze for meatloaf.
And then there's relish. True, it's good on hot dogs, but this condiment can do so much more. I think it's time to shake off the lowbrow reputation that pickle relish has been saddled with for so long and bring out into the limelight. Since it's essentially a chopped pickle, you can use it anywhere that a bit of sliced or minced dill pickle might go. Spread it on a sandwich, stir it into tuna or chicken salad, or even put it out on a cheese tray along with a dish of tapenade.
Another virtue of this type of relish is that it has the ability to absorb mountains of garden produce. Cucumbers and green peppers take up a heck of a lot of space in their natural form, but once shredded, they become compact and manageable.
Before You Get Started
If you have a food processor with a fine grating disc blade, this is a good time to pull it out. You can use a box grater, but using an appliance makes really quick work of it and keeps your knuckles entirely intact.
The reason that the recipe has you simmer the vegetables in apple cider, drain them and then add more is because these vegetables have a very high water content. They express enough liquid into the vinegar that they can dilute and leave the relish tasting weak and lifeless.
I like to add enough red chili flake to this relish to ensure that I experience a pleasant tingle while eating it. However, if you like things a little less hot, feel free to reduce or omit the chili flakes.
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About the author: Marisa McClellan is a food writer, canning teacher, and dedicated pickler who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her jams, pickles and preserves (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first book, also called Food in Jars, is now available.