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Making tomato relish

We eat a lot of relishes, chutneys and pickles, but it’s not something we’ve ever tried to make so today I decided I’d have a bit of a look around the internet to see what was involved with the aim of using up the last of the marmande tomatoes from our greenhouse (well I say the last – just the last from the batch I picked this week there are a whole lot more).

Looking at recipes online, it didn’t look too difficult so I thought, hey why not? And it turned out quite tasty so I thought I’d share it with you and maybe if you’ve fancied trying your hand but haven’t been brave enough, this might give you the courage.


ingredients for tomato relish
  • 1kg of tomatoes
  • 500g of onions
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4cm piece of ginger
  • 250g sugar
  • 150ml red wine vinegar

What to do


You need to sterilise any jars you are using to store this – the easiest way is to wash them and then put them on a tray in a preheated oven (140C ) and leave them there in the hot oven for at least half an hour before you take them out to fill them.

Slice the onions and throw them in a pan and caramalise them.

While that’s happening, take the skins off the tomatoes (make a cross in the bottom then put them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Take them out and plug them in ice water for 30 seconds. The skin comes right off) and chop them up.

Chop the garlic, ginger and chilli.

Once the onions are caramelised, put everything in a pan and simmer for an hour, stirring frequently. Really frequently, you really really don’t want to let this burn.

Once it goes dark and “jammy” it’s ready.

tomato relish

Safe storing long-term

In order to allow me to store these jars of relish long term, I’m going to boil them. This is something called canning in the States or more usually water bathing elsewhere. Basically, it’s what you do to make sure any of the potentially harmful bacteria and fungus that could be in there will be killed off so that your relish won’t spoil and more importantly, it won’t make you ill.

The added benefit is that this will mean your relish can be stored away in the cupboard for a very long time.

Because this is an acidic food we can easily do this by boiling the jars.

Canning – very simply way

You will need a large deep pot. One big enough to place all your jars inside without them touching and to cover them completely with water and boil. You can buy fancy tools for doing this, but if this is your first time, you might want to keep things simple (I’ve put some links at the bottom for some basics).

Take your jars out of the oven and set them aside on a chopping board or tray to be filled with your lovely relish. You want to fill each jar leaving only a half inch of space at the top. Now this bit is important, take a knife or other long thing item (end of a spoon) and run it down the sides of the jars inside and then pull to the centre to get rid of any air pockets.

Once you are happy, clean the tops and threads on the jars to make sure you get a good seal and then put the lid onto the jar and tighten it. Don’t go mad with the tightening, just normal pressure.

Ok, the next thing you want to do is to immerse the jars in a big pot of boiling water. You don’t want to put the glass jars directly onto the bottom of the pot, so if you don’t have a rack for putting your jars onto, you can add a tea towel to the bottom of the pot and place your jars onto that, make sure they aren’t touching and make sure that water is about an inch above the jars. Now boil them on a rolling boil for about 15 minutes with the pot lid on.

Once you have finished boiling, take the lid of the pot and leave the jars to stand in the water for 5 mins before taking them out to rest and cool.

Useful items for preserving: https://wwwliandkEli’s list of useful “canning” bits and bobs

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