Fall is a perfect time for relish! All kinds of fruits and vegetables are in delicious abundance here in Minnesota, and what better way to capture the flavors than in a homemade jar of relish?

By definition, relish is a fruit-or-vegetable-based condiment that is made with a brine, although it can have many flavors and variations. You might automatically think of the typical sweet pickle relish served on hot dogs; however, there are so many delicious, unsung recipes that are so simple to make, and can add a punch of flavor to any meal. Here are 5 reasons you should “relish” this fall!

1) The method is simple: In a saucepan on the stove, bring to a simmer:

-about 2 c vinegar (I prefer cider vinegar)

-1-2 t salt

-1-2 t honey, sugar, or maple syrup

-pickling spices (optional)

Stir mixture over medium/high heat until salt and/or sugar is dissolved. You can either pour this mixture over about 4 c finely-chopped fruits and/or vegetables for a quick, fresh relish; or simmer all your ingredients together on the stove for a heartier, deep-flavor relish. You can adjust flavors by adding more vinegar, sugar, or salt; you can also add a thickener like cornstarch to the simmered version if need be.

2) So many ways to enjoy it:

-Top a burger or sandwich

-On a meat/cheese platter

-Mix into ground meat for meatloaf, or cabbage roll filling

-Serve with empanadas or egg rolls

-Great accompaniment for curry dishes

-Serve over warm Brie, fresh Chevre, or cream cheese for quick appetizer with crackers

-Goes great with fish, grilled meats or roasts

3) Relish stores extremely well. You can make large batches and freeze, or can it in jars for up to 2 years.

4) It makes a great gift! Who wouldn’t love a little jar of something to liven up a cheese platter, or top a grilled burger? They’ll never know you canned it two years ago. 🙂

5) It’s a great way to use up fruits or vegetables that are starting to wilt; they may have lost their crunch, but still have plenty of flavor. Peppers, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, celery, zucchini, grapes, berries, peaches/stone fruit, citrus, herbs, onion, garlic… they all work great in a relish.

I am sure I can come up with more reasons, but I’ll stop here for now. If you’re uncertain on where to begin, I’d suggest perusing recipes online for flavor ideas and different cooking methods. Some of my personal favorite flavors:

-Corn and bell pepper relish with sweet onion

-Apricot chutney with shallots and red pepper

-Caramelized beet and onion relish with rosemary

-Balsamic cherry tomato relish

The best part about making relish is that you can have fun and get creative! Add some Dijon mustard, orange zest, herbs, capers, balsamic vinegar, curry or chili spices… Sometimes, in my opinion, the best recipes are made by total accident. So, get out there and make some delicious accidental recipes! And enjoy 🙂