George’s Harvest Relish

… with strong good flavours
(c) 2017, Davd

Some time ago, i published a Chili recipe, with the comment, “While pea soup and even pintos with oregano and chili powder, aren’t distinctively men’s [nor women’s] cooking, chili is very often seen as masculine.

This month, as i edited three relish recipes for a friend, i noticed that all three, and this one especially, differ from average relishes by having a stronger, more robust flavour. One might say the same thing about chili. Perhaps that’s what androcentric cooking is, in essence: Vigorous rather than delicate flavourings.

George’s Relish is named for one of the four excellent canines i have had the honour and pleasure to supervise during my adult life. Chosen by my son Erik as a Chow puppy from the Tseshaht reserve near Port Alberni, George showed the first time he really ran, that he was not all-Chow. He ran with the beautifully graceful, efficient lope of a wolf — which gave us a good guess as to what was his sire.

He matured into a stocky but not fat, tall but not lean animal with a smiling face and a strong reddish cast to his coat. In character and in health, he was hardy, good-natured, robust, vigorous.

“George’s relish” began as a variation on “green tomato Chow Chow”; it was developed to use dark brassica leaves (cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc. …) whose flavor might be too strong as a dinner vegetable or salad ingredient; and red at least as much as green tomatoes1.

Considering its reddish colour and its excellent, robust taste — it had to remind us of George; and as we recognized its excellence, we decided it deserved the honour of being named for him.

George’s Relish is both savory and sweet; and like all my food blogs, George’s is a “technique” rather than an exact procedure. Reading what follows should give you an idea how to make it; and your personal likes and preferences can then adjust the specifics. You might want more tomatoes, more brassica leafage, more onion, more or less of the spices.

George’s features the darker vegetable inputs: Kale or outer cabbage leaves, rather than centre-of-the-head cabbage; red and half-red tomatoes, at least as much as green; and some molasses. It seems that the dark Brassica should exceed the onion and the tomato should be as much or almost as much as the onion; and the [5%] vinegar should be 70% to 80% as much as the sugar. [going without paste, more tomato may turn out to be called-for; and unless tomato paste is cheap, that might be the way to go.]

This is a technique for good cooks who know how to taste, smell, and adjust.

–  – –  –

‣ Dark cabbage, kale, and-or broccoli leafage — a plastic grocery carry-out bag full2
‣ 1 litre chopped green and red tomatoes (double to two litres, and bias to red, and you can eliminate the tomato paste if that is expensive)
‣ 6 medium onions, chopped

‣ 7 c sugar , ‣ 1/4 c pickling salt   ‣ generous 1/2 c molasses ‣ 4-5 c 5% vinegar
‣ at least 1.5 t ground turmeric [have typically used 2+]
‣ 4 T mustard seeds and ‣ 2T prepared mustard   ‣ 3 T mixed pickling spices

‣ 6 green and 6 red peppers, coarsely chopped (or use paprika powder and more green+red tomato
‣ 4+ cups tomato paste [could sub ketchup or increase tomato above]
‣ 1 t ground ginger

‣ Combine cabbage-kale-&c, onion, tomatoes, peppers [if], and salt in a large bowl or plastic pail. Cover, let stand overnight. Drain.

‣ Mix prepared mustard with a little vinegar in a kettle, add remaining vinegar, sugar, molasses, turmeric, ginger, mustard seeds, pickling spices; bring to boil and simmer 20 minutes.

‣ Add the salt-softened chopped vegetables, bring back to boiling, simmer at least 10 minutes [in practice, it has been more like 1/2 hour, with more molasses and spice being added after initial tastings.]

‣ Ladle into jars [7 pints was the original estimate; but i suggest you have at least 4 litres total jar volume available] adjust their lids, process in boiling water 5 minutes [from return to boil]

‣ Remove the jars from the boiling water, cool on wooden boards, wire racks. or towel folded at least double, check for seal when they have cooled.

Like most relishes, George’s improves with age. The amount left after filling the last jar, the contents of a jar that didn’t seal, will be good. The relish you open in the winter, the following spring, the next summer, will be better — at least, it has tasted better to us.


1… while HOT-dog was developed to use green tomatoes. Here on Vancouver Island, where Erik and i developed both of them, the gardening season runs long; in good years we picked red ripe outdoor tomatoes through July, August, September, and October. Of the green tomatoes we picked at season’s end, we were able to ripen many indoors. We had less need to find uses for green tomatoes than gardeners with shorter growing seasons.

2. Stuff the bag full “hanging in the air,” so to speak. You don’t need to put it on a table and cram it full under pressure.

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About Davd

Davd (PhD, 1966) has been a professor, a single father keeping a small commercial herb garden so as to have flexible time for his sons, and editor of _Ecoforestry_. He is a practicing Christian, and in particular an advocate of ecoforestry, self-sufficiency horticulture, and men of all faiths living together "in peace and brotherhood" for the fellowship, the efficiency, and the goodwill that sharing work so often brings.
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