Saturday, October 20, 2012

Burning Hands Relish

My hands were burning like hell three years ago. I had just finished making 200 little jars of hot pepper relish as wedding favors. I spent that Saturday night at my BFF's house with both hands in big containers of yogurt while drinking red wine from a straw and watching Saturday Night Live.

Two blunders mark that experience: First of all, I never wrote down the recipe I used. And second, I didn't wear gloves while cutting hot peppers.

I'm recording the recipe as best I can this time, having improvised quite a bit from a recipe found in The Complete Book of Pickles & Relishes, originally published in 1965 by Leonard Louis Levinson. This book, which I acquired by marriage from my husband who is a trained chef, is my basic pickle-, relish-, and chutney-making bible.

During a visit to the Red Hook Added Value Community Farm, I lamented that I hadn't made relish for a long time. My husband encouraged me to take some time this weekend to make some, and so we picked up an assortment of late-summer produce: purple and green tomatillos, red, purple, and green bell peppers, and assorted, colorful hot peppers. Making relish is a snap--you just have to remember the damage these hot pepper can do to your nose, your eyes, and your hands. I guess I didn't learn my lesson from the last time.

Hot Pepper & Celery Pickle Relish

6 tomatillos
6 bell peppers
6-12 assorted hot peppers, depending on your taste and their size
1 large onion
2 stalks celery
2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pickling or canning salt
8 small jars

Chop the tomatillos, onions, celery, and peppers roughly and then put in a food processor. Chop just enough so the relish is fine, but not a paste. Combine in a pot on the stove with vinegar, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil. Strain the relish from the liquid, reserving the liquid. Spoon relish into clean jars and fill with reserved liquid to the consistency you like. Screw on lids tightly and set aside until they pop. Distribute jars to close friends and advise them that the relish is good on such things as scrambled eggs, fish, hot dogs, and kielbasa.

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