Today’s canning project was inspired by a couple of corn relishes that I’ve tasted lately–both in the Black Hills during the Local Food Summit and then in Yankton, during my lunch between sessions of the Organic Field Day there.
The problem is that as tasty as relish is, I hardly ever eat the stuff I make–usually a batch of zucchini relish every other year. There are lots of fun things to do with it, but I just forget. So the corn relish, I decided, was going to be more like a salsa/Tex-Mex meal additive than the traditional mustard seed-and-turmeric-spiced relish.
I used about 2 1/2 dozen ears of sweet corn from three different sources–a couple of farmers market vendors and then another dozen ears from Morse’s Market when I realized I didn’t have quite enough to do the quadruple batch I’d planned (why do four jars when you can do fourteen?).
It seems I always pick the best day to do a big canning project. It may have been cool and rainy for weeks, but the day I pick to work with hot jars and hot food and a canner belching steam is 90+ degrees and humid as hell. Oh, well–it wouldn’t feel like canning if the heat weren’t suffocating.
As I mentioned, instead of the usual spice blend for a typical relish, I used something a little different–cumin, cinnamon, some ground chipotle, and oregano. I used lots of multi-colored (mostly sweet) peppers as well as a few packets of those not-super-hot pepper flakes I get every time I order delivery pies from R-Pizza.
I’m not growing celery this year, and the recipe calls for lots of finely chopped celery, so I used some of the stems and leaves from the celeriac plants I’m growing in the community garden. I also added a few finely chopped tomatoes that the recipe didn’t call for–I didn’t have quite as many peppers as they wanted, and a higher-acid ingredient isn’t really a problem in the mix.
As usual, the added sugar was less–it’s more of a salsa after all–so two cups in the whole batch instead of three.
There was about a pint-full left in the bottom of the pot after the second batch, but I won’t do another canner-session for just one jar–that goes in the fridge to tickle the palate and get me thinking about how I’ll use it in my cooking this winter.
Although at this point the kitchen is about the same heat and humidity level as the outside, I did my usual hot water bath dump on the weeds along the walkway outside to reduce the steaminess of the house.
And now I’m thinking a cold beer and a cold swim sounds like the best way to top off the afternoon’s work!
Local ingredients: sweet corn, hot and sweet peppers, celeriac stems and leaves, red onions, garlic, tomatoes.