Friday, September 20, 2019


Canning and filling the pantry for the winter brings back many fond memories. By sheer force of habit, I do almost all my canning in September and early October. The fruit and vegetables are abundant, and the weather is kinder to those who stand next to a stove for an hour or two.
For this and any other canning recipe, pick only ripe tomatoes and red peppers, with my suggestion being Roma or beef tomatoes, as well as large, sweet red peppers. This will ensure that the vegetables add as much as their natural sweetness to the relish as possible, balancing nicely the hotness of the pepperoncini and the garlic.
It goes without saying, but you control how hot the relish is going to be. If you are not sure, err on the side of using less peperoncini, rather than more.
And although quite similar to ajvar, this type of relish is much hotter and somewhat thinner in texture, making it ideal for dipping cubes of hard cheese, or pieces of freshly baked sourdough.

1 kilogram tomatoes
15 grams salt
7 grams sugar
15 ml apple cider vinegar
150 ml vegetable oil
1.5 kilograms sweet red peppers
20 grams fresh peperoncini
4 large garlic cloves

Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers, and do the same for the tomatoes, cleaning them thoroughly, removing any imperfections. This helps the relish keep for longer. Separately blend the tomatoes and peppers in a blender or a food processor. Remove the stems and the seeds from the peperoncini as best as possible, then grind them too, or use a mortar and pestle to mash them into a paste. Mash the garlic cloves, too.
Take a very large, heavy-bottomed pot, ideally one that is quite wide, because that will facilitate cooking the relish, and add in the tomatoes, salt, sugar, apple cider vinegar, and 100 ml of the oil, and place the pot over medium-high heat. Bring it to a simmer, and let the tomatoes cook, whilst stirring often, for one hour. This will cook off majority of the liquid from the tomatoes, and give a deep, rich tomato base.
After about an hour, add in the red peppers, peperoncini, and garlic, mix really well, and bring it to a simmer again. This time stirring more frequently, cook the relish for one more hour. During the last 10-15 minutes of cooking, add the remaining 50 ml of oil, and let the mixture cook until thick. Keep in mind that you can cook it for longer, in case you want a really thick relish, but you need to stir quite often so it doesn't burn.
After about 2 hours of cooking, or until you're satisfied with the texture, taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove it from the heat and let it cool down for about 15 minutes, then carefully pour it into prepared, sterilised jars. Keep it in the refrigerator, as it tastes best when it's served cold. Yields 900 grams of relish.