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Pickle relish or simply relish is a condiment which is made with various spiced vegetables or fruits which are pickled for extended shelf life. One of the most well-known forms of this condiment is probably the version made with cucumbers and widely served with hot dogs in many regions of the world; this style is so common that many people refer to it simply as “relish,” not realizing that there are other types of relish available.
To make pickle relish, cooks chop up their fruits and/or vegetables of choice and briefly cook them in a mixture of pickling spices. The cooked ingredients are then blended with a pickling solution which typically includes salt, vinegar, and sugar, and then the relish is decanted into jars and subjected to a hot water bath to seal the jars. When handled carefully and well canned, it can last, unopened, for months or years; as soon as the seal of the jar is broken, however, it needs to be refrigerated and used relatively quickly.
Depending on the taste of the cook, pickle relish may be sweet, spicy, savory, or tangy, and spicing ingredients can include things like mustard seeds, bay leaves, cayenne, celery seeds, onions, garlic, sweet peppers, hot peppers, allspice, cloves, and turmeric, among many other things. The vegetables used typically include cucumbers, and may also include cauliflower, carrots, and other more exotic additions. Because relish is designed to be served in small portions, some cooks make it very strong, to ensure that the flavor will carry.
Pickle relish can go with a wide variety of foods, and it can also be used in an assortment of recipes. For example, many tartar sauce recipes call for a dab of relish, and some people include relish in things like potato or tuna salad for extra flavor. Alone, pickle relish can dress meats, especially hot dogs and hamburgers, and it can also be layered into sandwiches or served on the side of meals like fish and chips.
Some notable forms of pickle relish include piccalilli, a famous British relish, and gentleman's relish, made with spiced anchovies, rather than pickle vegetables. Most markets carry an assortment of pickle relishes and chutneys, a closely related food, and enterprising cooks can also make these perennial favorites at home, assuming that they have experience in pickling.
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