Tomato Relish 1 : Cooking

I’ve always wanted to make homemade relishes and preserves and try canning the proper way. I’ve made jams before but they were never sealed and so I was always nervous about giving them away. The perfect opportunity presented itself to me when we were planning our wedding, and a homemade edible favour seemed to be a good option. I tested this relish recipe a few times, and got to try my hand at hot water bath canning. It wasn’t as tricky as I anticipated, and the jars sealed perfectly to last a year in room temperature!

I tried to make this recipe fairly simple so it would be a crowd pleaser, but feel free to add more adventurous ingredients if you fancy. It’s worth noting though that the quantity for vinegar can be more, but no less—to ensure that the pH is low enough for the relish to be preserved (otherwise a different method of canning would be required—yes I did my research!) This is a fairly large quantity recipe so it might be better to scale it down for home use, but if you’re going through the trouble of canning it’s always nice to do a few extra jars to give away.

Ingredients (yields approx. 5l of relish)

5kg tomatoes
1kg onions
160g garlic
85g brown sugar
450ml white vinegar
8tsp white mustard seeds
2tbsp olive oil
4tsp curry powder
3 bird’s eye chillies
8tbsp cumin powder
250g raisins
4 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

I used perfectly ripe, plump vine-ripened Truss tomatoes for the relish. The weight of the tomatoes you use initially is about the amount of relish you’ll yield at the end, after the addition of vinegar and reduction in the pot.

Wash the tomatoes and cut a shallow X into the bottoms of the tomatoes. Put a pot of water on the boil.


When the water is boiling, drop the tomatoes in for 1–2 minutes. You might see the skin beginning to peel, but even if it’s not visible, fish them out of the pot and drop them into a bowl of ice water.


Let them sit in the ice water while you continue the process with the rest of the tomatoes, adding more ice if needed to keep the water cold.


If the tomatoes are lovely and plump, and they haven’t been boiling too long, they will peel perfectly like this — so satisfying!


Here are the ‘naked’ tomatoes, all peeled and ready to go – but are still firm and fresh.


Chop the tomatoes once they are all peeled – some people omit the seeds because they can be bitter but I’ve never had an issue with them so I throw everything in. The tomato chunks are about 1/2″ cubes.


Chop the onions (a sharp knife helps with reducing the tears) to a fine dice. Set them aside and mince the garlic finely.


Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a deep pot. Add garlic and sauté over low heat. The garlic should cook through and the mustard seeds may pop. Add onions and sauté for another few minutes.


Add tomatoes and cook for 10-20 minutes until it breaks down slightly. Add brown sugar, raisins and vinegar and cook for a further 10-20 minutes.


Lastly, add the cumin, curry powder, bird’s eye chillies (chopped finely), and pepper. Add salt a little at a time, and adjusting with brown sugar and vinegar to taste. Keep cooking and reducing to the desired thickness. Keep in mind that the flavours will keep changing as the relish cooks/cools, and sometimes it’s hard to judge how good a relish is whilst it’s cooking. Check out my next post on canning if you’re interested!