Checking the stockpile and adding relish

9 May 2008
It's a constant challenge keeping the pantry and stockpile cupboards full and rotating. I've been going through my cupboards this week to check to see what needs using, making sure nothing is off and it's all in good order. One thing I noticed a few days ago is that we have too many cans of tomatoes that have been there too long - we've been using fresh tomatoes and left the canned ones to sit in the cupboard. We also had a lot of ripe capsicums (peppers) that had to be picked so I took advantage of both situations yesterday and made a roasted capsicum and tomato relish.

I think I've posted the recipe before but it's always changing. I'm an intuitive cook rather than a slave to an idea so I use what's on hand and constantly change recipes. Yesterday I made this version of an old favourite.

Makes 8 jars
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
    salt and pepper
  • 6 cans tomatoes
  • an arm full of sweet ripe capsicums (peppers)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup malt vinegar

If you've grown your own open pollinated capsicums, save the seeds for planting your next crop and for sharing - Tracy, I'm sending you some of these.

Cover the capsicums with a tiny amount of oil and roast on high in the oven until they start to blacked. When they cool slightly, remove the skins.

Add chopped onions and a little oil to a large pot and slowly cook the onions until they're caramelised. Add salt and pepper and curry powder and stir into the onions. Chop up the skinned roasted capsicum flesh and add it to the pot, then add 6 cans of tomatoes. Squash the tomatoes with your spoon, then add the sugar and vinegar. Bring to the boil, without the lid, and cook on a medium heat for about 90 minutes, or until the tomatoes have reduced and thickened to the consistency you like.

Put clean jars, without lids, into your oven as soon as the capsicums are finished and sterilise them in there for about 20 minutes on a medium heat. Boil the lids in a small saucepan of water for 15 minutes. When the sauce is cooked, add the hot sauce to the hot jars and put the lids on. Turn the jars over and cool while the jars are upside down.

I bottle relish and sauce like this when I'm not going to keep it very long. This relish will be given away or eaten within six weeks. I will store all this in the fridge, not in the cupboard. If I wanted to store the relish in the cupboard, I would process these jars in a water bath.

So that's our relish taken care of for a while. I also need to make some pasta sauce but that will have to wait until I either grow some tomatoes or see a box of cheapies.

Today I'll make a date loaf for an outing on Saturday and for lunches next week. I'll also pick a couple of bags of silverbeet for freezing. I try to pack away some vegetables into the freezer whenever I can. They always come in handy when there's a break in our backyard harvests.

Shane came over yesterday. There is a certain girl he's very serious about and luckily, she lives close by. I'm so proud of both my sons, they're like chalk and cheese, but both of them are smart, hard working and ambitious. Shane works at a fine dining resort about 3 hours drive from here. He lives in a small house on the property owned by the resort. It's isolated, cold and incredibly beautiful. Yesterday I loaned him my Carla Emery book. He's already build a vegetable garden, now he's buying some rare breed chickens and he needs to make them comfortable, Carla-style. Shane has always been a gardener, he did four years of an environmental science degree before he realised he wanted to be a chef instead. He knows about soils and plants, but this is the first time he's raised his own chickens. I think times are a-changing for Shane. ;- )

Times are a-changing for all of us. Ifeel the rise in fuel and food costs have awoken many people to the need for change. Let's hope it's all for the good.

How is everyone going with their seed swap? Tracy, I'll be emailing you later today. :- )


  1. Hello Rhonda Jean!
    I just wanted to let you know some of your pictures didn't come through.

    Thanks for another great post!

  2. Hi Rhonda,

    I have to say although I planned to get chickens previously I couldn't work out the logistics of two large dogs with active prey drive and a dodgey back. My plan now is to put them on a different part of the property where they will be less conspicuous to the dogs but now I am debating if here in Melbourne its really worth it for this time of year.... we get reasonably cold.

    I think I am probably going to do it any way and well if we don't get eggs until spring at least we have the chickens well settled.

    Kind Regards

  3. Hi RJ,

    The relish looks yum. I'm still eating my way through the beetroot relish I made at Christmas and still gifting jars of that one away. Perhaps I'll try this one when the beetroot runs out! I look forward to seeing how you do your pasta sauce as I have read about problems with storing tomatoes even in my FV book, due to the high acid levels in the tomatoes?
    I'd love to read your thoughs on this, when you post about making pasta sauce.

  4. Beautiful Peppers, beautiful relish!
    Sounds like a great recipe!
    Thanks Rhonda Jean!

  5. Oh yum Rhonda! I love relish. Another good looking recipe I may just have to try in the future. Thanks!

  6. I'd forgotten that I have Carla Emery's book (one of them from years ago) that I need to dig out.

    Wish she was still around to give wisdom but at least we have her book. :)

    Beautiful pictures!

  7. Why do you stand the jars upside down?

  8. River asked the same thing I was going to! Not heard of turning jars upside down....and wondered why you do it. Also, please can you explain more about the water bath - I've make chutneys and relishes etc, and they're often kept for a long time, (and been fine) but never had the water bath treatment. Anyway, those jars look delicious, not surprised they won't last long!Have a wonderful weekend. Diana

  9. That relish looks so wonderful! I will print this recipe off and try it. Thanks for all your posts, I always enjoy my visit here.

  10. Everything looks just delicious!

  11. Hi Rhonda! I haven't visited your blog in awhile due to me having no internet connection. I just want to say, I loved reading your last few posts. So true re: your points about simple living.

    Thanks for this recipe! My children are not yet into relish but my parents are and I'll be using your recipe to give to them. THANK YOU!

  12. Hi everyone!

    Anissa, I hope the photos appeared for you.

    Belinda, we have two big dogs and they're fine with the chooks. We have to retrain them with every new lot of chickens we bring home, but after a few days living with them, they're fine. I think it's good to have the dogs as they do protect the chooks from other predators.

    River and Diana, the jars are inverted to create a vacuum seal that helps preserve the contents. It's not as strong as the seal you'll get in a water bath - or in a pressure canner (although I never pressure can).
    A water bath is used to sterilise the jams or relishes so that they may be safely kept in a cupboard for months at a time. While it's safe to keep some unprocessed jams/relishes/sauces etc in the fridge for a few weeks, it's not safe to store them in a cupboard.

    Eileen, welcome back!

  13. Thanks for that extra info, Rhonda.


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