Spicy Corn Relish

Corn relish
Corn relish

During my first trip to Pennsylvania Dutch country about 7 years ago, I bought a jar of corn relish at the Lancaster indoor framers market.The relish disappeared fast after I got home, though I have to confess most of it was consumed standing up in front of the refrigerator.I did manage to serve it a couple of times with cold baked ham and I believe it would also be delicious with fried chicken or chicken salad.

Last Saturday I bought 3 ears of corn at my local farmers market and when they were still sitting on the counter in my kitchen on Sunday morning I decided to use them in a recipe.Off to the book shelves and computer I went, reading dozens of recipes for corn relish.The recipe below is a synthesis of many I looked at, all of which had way too much sugar in them as far as I’m concerned.Many also called for celery seed which I didn’t have so I used some celery instead.Most of the recipes called for onion but I decided to use up some scallions I had bought in Chinatown last week.You could substitute 1/2 to 3/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion for the scallions if you like.Finally, I had a small green pepper that had escaped being pickled by falling to the bottom of the vegetable drawer, so I used it – a red pepper might look better in the relish, but I decided I liked the yellow and green color scheme of the one I had made.

Recycled jars:Being a hoarder by nature, I always save empty jars.I put them on the top rack of the dishwasher and the covers in one of the flatware compartments and leave them there for as long as it takes for the labels to disappear.If the jars have previously held anything strong in flavor or scent such as mustard or pickles, after repeated washings I use some masking tape to attach the cover, inside out, to the side of the jar so that any scent of the previous contents can dissipate.After a week or so of airing, I close the jars and store them in a carton.Always sterilize jars and covers in boiling water before filling whether they’re recycled or standard canning jars.Though I never boil the jars after they’re filled since I store all my pickles and preserves in the refrigerator and use them relatively quickly, check the USDA website for instructions on doing this if you want to store your pickles and preserves at room temperature.

Tomorrow:Quick blueberry jam…

CORN RELISH, SEPTEMBER 2013

Makes 3+ half-pint jars

1 cup apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon mustard seed

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 large allspice berry, crushed

1 sprig fresh thyme

1 large bay leaf

3 ears corn/1 3/4 pounds, husked, kernels cut from cob, about 2 1/2 cups/13.5 ounces

1 small green or red bell pepper/4.5 ounces cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 bunch scallions/2 ounces trimmed, sliced thin

2 inner ribs celery with leaves if possible/2.2 ounces, cut into 1/4-inch dice

  1. Combine all the brine ingredients from the vinegar to the bay leaf in an enameled iron Dutch oven.Heat slowly over low heat.
  1. After 5 minutes, increase heat to high, bring to a full boil, and add the vegetables.
  1. Return to a boil and cook 3 minutes.
  1. Remove thyme and bay leaf and pack into sterilized jars through a jar funnel.
  1. Wipe tops of jars and close with sterilized 1- or 2-piece covers and cool.
  1. Store in refrigerator.