Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Tomato and chilli relish
When it comes to making preserves, I am a complete and utter novice. You could say that I was a virgin in this department until a few days ago. Over the years, I have had the best intentions to utilise some of my various home-grown produce into jams, relishes or chutneys although I never managed to get around to it.
My mother and mother in-law are old hands at making preserves and always pass on a jar or two of their various wares. I discussed tomato based recipes with my mother in-law last weekend who showed me a great pile of old recipes she had been collecting over the years. She offered to lend me her book full of clippings and at the end of the evening, I forgot to take them home with me.
I took this as an opportunity to look through my own cookbooks and stumbled across a Tomato and chilli relish in an old Charmaine Solomon cookbook published by Family Circle in 1991. It sounded like a perfect recipe for me to try, especially as I had several home-grown chillis ready to use as well as a bounty of tomatoes. My chillies are quite small but they have a decent amount of heat, I have learnt that a little bit goes a long way.
I haven't taken any photos of my tomato plant this year as I am rather ashamed of it's appearance. It was neglected for a period and the leaves started to brown, ironically it has produced the most perfect fruit of any tomato plant I have grown. The bowl in the picture is holding 1.7 kg of beautiful ripe fruit, I only used 1 kg of these in the relish as we have been enjoying the tomatoes so much in salads, sandwiches and various other ways.
Charmaine's recipe called for 3 kg of tomatoes so I made a third of the quantity and also altered a couple of other things along the way. The tomatoes were supposed to be peeled first which I didn't bother with, I forgot to measure the salt so might have used a bit less and I also doubled the amount of curry powder as I felt it needed more after a taste test.
As this was my first relish attempt, I was astonished with the amount of sugar that went into it. After I added the final ingredients and had a taste, I was certain that it was going to be way too sweet. When the relish was bottled and cooled down, I nervously gave the man a spoonful to sample and was relieved when he declared it to be a good one. He loves a good relish so I was interested to hear his opinion. I was pleasantly surprised upon tasting the relish as the sweetness had mellowed throughout the cooking and cooling process.
The recipe filled three small jars and one slightly larger jar (total of approx. 950ml) and could easily be doubled or tripled to suit your needs. The amount of chilli and curry powder could also be increased or decreased to suit your personal taste.
Tomato and chilli relish (Adapted from a Charmaine Solomon recipe)
1 kg ripe tomatoes
2 medium brown onions
2-3 teaspoons salt (should be 3 teaspoons based on the recipe)
2 bird's eye chillies
300ml brown vinegar
250g raw sugar
1/4 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
Chop the tomatoes and onions and place them in a large non-metallic bowl sprinkled with the salt. Allow it to sit for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Drain the tomatoes and onions in a colander, then place them into a large saucepan with the chillies. Combine the sugar, plain flour, curry powder, mustard powder and turmeric in a bowl and add enough vinegar to make a thick paste and set aside. Pour the remaining vinegar into the saucepan and simmer on medium-low for 45 minutes.
Stir the paste into the saucepan, bring to the boil and stir until it becomes thick. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Spoon the relish into warm sterilised jars and seal tightly.