Sunday, November 28, 2010

Another relish day (zucchini relish)

I've been pondering the food related traditions that run in my family for the 'family traditions' December Go Ahead Honey, it's gluten free. Tastes have changed over the years, and I have fond childhood memories of foods that haven't been cooked in years, and that I couldn't eat anymore even if they were.

I've realised that there is a trait passed down the female line of both sides of my family - a squirrel-like addiction to food hoarding. Being in the southern hemisphere, we start getting wonderful crops of fruit and vegetables around this time of year, and I love giving homemade things for Christmas. I remember from my early years my paternal grandmother's pickled onions, lined up in rows in the shed behind the garage - somehow both incredibly sweet and painfully sour at the same time. The smell of rosemary still always makes me think of their garden. The pickled onion recipe is lost as far as I know, and my one attempt at SCD pickled onions didn't yield fantastic results - I mustn't have sterilised everything properly as they developed an interesting fluorescent yellow mould after a few weeks. 

Later, my maternal grandparents used to live on a little farm, with some cows and chickens, and lots of fruit trees and a vegetable garden. Nan would make wonderful jams and jellies, and fruit preserved in syrup, and my brother and I would gorge ourselves on cherries and blackberries whenever we visited at the right time of year, and mum would make summer pudding. (Some time soon I'll have to think about an SCD bread that would work for that… maybe if the cherries are out when I'm in Tassie in January.)

I have made another attempt at modifying Mum's zucchini relish for SCD, which I may submit. While the recipe itself isn't very traditional (Mum kind of made it up from a very bland zucchini relish recipe a few years ago), it goes with the family tradition of hoarding food in pantries and sheds and anywhere else it fits!

My first attempt at the relish a couple of weeks ago was okay - the flavour was excellent as always (how can you go wrong with turmeric and cumin, coriander and mustard), but I cut the vegetables a bit too chunky, and didn't add enough gelatine to achieve the 'finely cut pieces in a viscous sauce' that cornflour creates. I've had some assistance on the chopping front this time - my best friend Maddi, a former chef and a master of knife skills, was visiting; so I thought I'd take the opportunity to exploit those skills for my own gain. (She did get to take some relish home, too!)

Two things about the recipe that I cannot emphasise enough:
- chop the vegies really small, 3-4mm cubes; and
- leave the zucchini and onion in the salt for as long as you can, at least 8 hours, but preferably more like 12.

Zucchini relish

2.5 cups finely chopped zucchini (a combination of green and yellow is nice if you can find them)
1 cup finely chopped onions  
1 tbsp salt

Combine zucchini, onion and salt in a bowl and leave overnight. Don’t be tempted to skimp on this step or your zucchini will end up mushy.
1 red capsicum, finely chopped (if I’m making double quantity, I use a red and a yellow capsicum)
70g honey
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp gelatine
150mls apple cider vinegar

The next day, add the gelatine to some of the vinegar and leave to sit while you do the next step.

Rinse the zucchini and onion. Place in a pan with the remaining ingredients. Bring to boil and simmer until the zucchini is cooked but still firm – about 20 minutes. You still want all of the vegetables to have some bite.

Add the gelatine mixture and stir until the gelatine is thoroughly dissolved. Test that the consistency is correct by pouring some of the liquid onto a frozen plate. Soak and add some more gelatine if it is too runny. (You want it to be thickened, not set).

Place in sterile jars and seal with sterilised lids. Makes 2 medium jars, which lasts us a few weeks. This time, I tripled the quantity!

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