Corn relish

Sweet corn season is in full swing here, just in time to replenish our supply of corn relish. Yesterday we picked up two dozen ears from our favorite farmstand. Along with peppers from our garden and a few other staples, today’s the day to make another ten pints to get us through the winter. We stumbled upon making this a few years ago when my farmers market partner had a basket stashed under her table of “rejects.” Luckily for us, her idea of a reject was as good as anything sold anywhere – she had incredibly high standards for everything she sold. She sold us the whole basketful for $15. Of course we had no plans in mind when we bought it but there’s no shortage of ideas for such things, thanks to the internet. We settled on corn relish since we already had all of the other ingredients.

The first step is getting the kernels off the cob. This YouTube video shows you the easiest, quickest way to tackle a pile of corn. You’ll also need this nifty little tool. Anyone who has ever faced a lot of corn to process and had to cut the kernels off by hand will want the drill. We cut both ends off the cob, then took them outside to husk and remove as much silk as possible before using the drill to remove the kernels. I had grilled ten ears a few days ago, coated with butter and cajun seasoning, and saved those kernels in the freezer till we were ready to make the relish. If you do this, add this corn with the peppers and other ingredients. It doesn’t need to boil with the freshly cut corn. Another variation would be to use a combination of hot and sweet peppers, and a tablespoon or so of chipotle powder.

You’ll need a large non-aluminum cooking pot that will hold 8-10 quarts. While the freshly cut corn is coming to a boil, peppers, onions, and celery should be chopped into pieces of roughly the same size. Fill the canner about 2/3 full of water and begin heating it. Have additional water boiled in case you need to add more once the jars are in the canner, so that the filled jars are covered by 1″ of water. Wash and heat the jars. Measure all of the other ingredients, except cornstarch, and set aside till the corn is slightly cooked. Then drain the corn and put it back in the pot, with everything except the corn starch. Bring it to a boil and let it boil for about 5 minutes. Mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water and add to the pot. Cook and stir for another 5-7 minutes to thicken, then you’re ready to fill jars and process.

Do not be intimidated by this! I have given standard measurements and weights for most of the ingredients since there is so much variation in sizes of fresh produce. If you need a refresher course in water bath canning, this one from Michigan State University Extension is good. Making this is mostly a matter of chopping and waiting. The slightly sweet, vinegary relish is wonderful with scrambled eggs or breakfast burritos, grilled meat, and Mexican dishes of all kinds.

– Joan, 11 September 2020

Corn relish

  • 16-20 ears of fresh sweet corn, husked and kernels cut from cobs (8 cups [1000 grams])
  • 2 sweet red or other colored peppers, chopped (5-6 cups total [750 grams], including the peppers below)
  • 2 green peppers or other peppers such as Anaheims, Hungarian wax, or poblanos, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (1 cup [150 grams])
  • 6 stalks of celery, chopped (2 cups [240 grams])
  • 2½ cups (575 grams) white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1¾ cups (350 grams) white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons powdered mustard
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or pickling salt (do NOT use table salt or sea salt with additives)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

Husk corn and cut kernels from the cobs. Do not scrape the cobs. Measure 8 cups (1000 grams) of kernels into a large pot. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Drain and return the corn to the pot.

Add all of the rest of the ingredients except the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil gently for 5 minutes. Mix cornstarch with the 2 tablespoons of water till it’s a smooth paste. Add to the pot and stir to mix. Cook a few minutes until the mixture is bubbly and slightly thickened. Let it cook for another 2 minutes.

Fill clean, hot jars with the hot relish and clean any spills from the tops of the jars before covering with hot lids. Screw on bands. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Allow jars to cool completely on a wire rack before checking the seals. Bands can be removed from sealed, cool jars.

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