Zia’s Corn Relish

Zia's Relish

Growing up, this would have been the time of year when Mom and Zia canned tomatoes. I vaguely remember the canning process itself but I do remember, vividly, being sent down to the cantina, “cellar”, to retrieve a quart or 2 of tomatoes when Mom was making sauce. Being arachnophobic, it took me forever to select jars with the least chance of having a spider lurking behind them. I never did come across a spider but, if I had, Mom surely would have heard the crash of jars smashing on the basement floor. Anyway, as their nests emptied — Mom & Zia’s nests, not the spiders’ — the need for tomatoes shrunk accordingly and eventually they stopped canning them altogether. But they didn’t stop canning. One of the things Zia canned was corn relish. Another condiment, this relish may be used to top any sandwich, sausage, or hamburger. Although not really a side dish, its acidity makes a spoonful or two a good accompaniment for meat or fish and, as was the case with the giardiniera recipe, I’m sure others will be offering serving suggestions as time goes by.

I didn’t set out to make corn relish this Summer and certainly didn’t plan on canning it. Speaking with Zia, I was surprised to learn that she hadn’t made the relish since 2006! Here I thought it had been about 2 years. After our call ended, I searched the web for recipes and none looked all that complicated. I spoke with her again late Friday, knowing that I would be going to the farmers’ market early Saturday morning. After a discussion, I decided to try my hand at it, she gave me the recipe, and I bought all the fresh ingredients at the market the following morning. By noon Saturday, I was canning corn relish and soon there were 4 pints cooling on towels.

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The recipe I’m sharing is Zia’s recipe, with the exception of the optional jalapeño. It makes about 7 pints of corn relish and that is too much for me. So, I halved the recipe, using a little more than 5 cups of corn instead of the 10 cups required for her relish. Zia’s recipe calls for 2 cups of white vinegar. I found that most recipes on the web used at least twice that amount and used either white or apple cider vinegar. I happen to love vinegar’s acidity so I used 2 cups of vinegar in my relish, 1 cup of which was white and the other cup cider. Lastly, I prefer a little spice so I added a whole jalapeño, diced, to the mix. The resulting heat was just enough for my palate without being the least bit unbearable.

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Zia’s Corn Relish Recipe

Ingredients

  • 10 cups corn kernels (about 16 – 20 ears)
  • 4 cups celery
  • 2 cups green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 whole jalapeño, diced (optional)
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp canning or pickling salt
  • 2 tsp celery seed
  • 1/4 cup AP flour mixed with a couple tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp turmeric

Directions

  • To prepare the relish
    1. This recipe requires that fresh corn be blanched for 5 minutes before being removed from the cob. Simply place the ears in boiling water for 5 minutes and remove to an ice bath. Once cooled, use a sharp knife to remove the kernels.
    2. In a large, heavy bottomed pot over med-high heat, combine the celery, bell peppers, onion, sugar, vinegar, salt, celery seed, and jalapeño, if using. Bring to a boil, stir occasionally, reduce and simmer for 5 minutes.
    3. Add the turmeric, mustard, corn, and the flour with water to the relish. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes and begin canning process.
  • To can the relish
    • The only canning instructions I received from Zia was to process the jars for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. Now, that would have meant absolutely nothing to me but a few short weeks ago. Instead, today, I knew exactly what she meant. Nevertheless, I wanted — OK, needed — some sort of official validation that I was going to can this relish correctly, Once again, I turned to the Pick Your Own website where, lo and behold, there was a section about making and canning homemade corn relish. Their recipe is very similar to Zia’s and their canning instructions are laid out, step-by-step.

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And so ends — and, believe me, I do mean “ends” — my brief and thoroughly unexpected visit to Cannery Row for 2011.

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59 thoughts on “Zia’s Corn Relish

    • It is a good relish, Roger, I just hope it will measure up to Zia’s standards when I bring her some. As for the arachnophobic adolescent, he grew into an arachnophobic adult who, to this very day, shudders at the thought of taking something off of a shelf in his basement. And don’t get me … er … him started about gardening.

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  1. So impressed by your canning! I’m a terrible chicken when it comes to canning (and spiders!). It looks delicious though and I can imagine how tasty it would be in the dead of winter – like a little bite of summer on your sandwich. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Kristy, but my canning is anything but impressive. It was more experimentation than anything else and this was my first year doing it. We’ll see what happens next year. With all the jars I’ve bought, though, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that I’ll be canning something next Summer — unless botulism claims me first! 🙂

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  2. I am just loving all these corn recipes! I was so surprised when this post popped up right after I posted my corn recipe! Great minds think alike? or is it that it’s the end of summer veggie rush? Regardless, this is wonderful. To be able to open a bit of summer in the winter months and feel so proud that you made it yourself! Never say never on the canning…

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    • Oh, I dunno, Lynda. I’m pretty sure that I’m finished with canning for the year. I’ve a nice assortment of canned goods for myself and I’ve given away quite a bit to friends. It’s time to put away the big pots and pans until next year — or at least until someone posts a canning recipe that sounds too good to pass up. 🙂

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  3. I love corn relish and have never made it, but all my corn is finished! (sad face) And we do not have a farmers market!(sadder face). next year is going to be a fantastic year in the kitchen and I shall pin this recipe to my board until then.. your jars look very sweet.. c

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    • Sad to hear that your corn is gone because that means our markets will be out of it very soon. (Yes, it’s all about me, me, me!) Like you, I’ll miss the fresh corn. It’s one of the best things about Summer, in my book.

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    • I agree about the end of sweet corn’s growing season. As for the relish, if my Aunt was still canning, I wouldn’t have attempted her recipe. As it is, I’ll bring some to her and both of us will have a little Summer sometime this Winter.

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  4. While living in Florida, I once asked what kind of corn they were selling and I was told yellow. Not super sweet, butter and sugar, just yellow. Here in New England as in so many places, growing corn and harvesting at the exact time is a passion. The relish sounds like a wonderful way of keeping summer alive.

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  5. Yes, this is what I’m talking about! A corn relish and just in time to finish off the summer veggie season. I’m almost as excited about trying out this recipe as the start of the football season…seriously.

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    • Thanks, Eva, and I won’t say never to your gingham idea because, until a few months ago, I said I’d never can. Now, look at me. If I say never to the gingham, sometime in November I’ll be in a fabric store buying gingham by the yard. Let’s just say that I doubt very, very much that I’ll be putting gingham on the jars. 🙂

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    • “Creeped”? They still creep me out beyond belief. I keep waiting for that magical day when I’ll “outgrow” this thing but it just ain’t happening. Still, if I can overcome botulismaphobia, maybe I can get over this.

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    • I, too, am hoping to find more corn this weekend, although not for more relish. I’m just not ready to acknowledge that corn season is over yet. Good luck. I hope you’re successful both in finding the corn and making the relish.

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  6. Wonderful – might have to pinch this one as our corn is finally doing its thing. And I´m almost prepared to bet my entire stock of jams that you´ll be canning again before the year is out…what about autumn fruits, marmalade, quince jelly, pickled walnuts?!!!

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    • You, my dear, are a temptress. It was your jam, if you’ll recall, that started me down this canning path. Well, I canned your jam. Canned some jelly, I’ve even canned your ketchup. Now you’re back to predict I’ll be canning well into Fall. I must say, “No! I have canned enough for 2011!” There. That’s settled once and for all.

      Now, what’s this about pickled walnuts?

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  7. I’m not afraid of spiders as long as they are not on me as a surprise.. crawling around they’re kinda cool. Unless it’s on me…. while I sleep…with my mouth open. Then yeah I guess I don’t like them.

    The relish looks grand! “I’m not a canner.” … “I’m only a little pregnant.” Maybe you only can a little, but yer a canner nonetheless. Looking into the walnuts – neighbors have trees….

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    • Well, in my home, this is spider season, when the cooler weather sends them out of the basement and up my walls. Not to worry. There’s always a bug bomb within reach — except in the room with my parrot. Luckily, they haven’t learned that yet. As for the relish, it really is a good recipe. Zia always knows best.

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  8. Sounds like an awesome recipe! You’re really inspiring me to start canning, as I’ve been wanting to give it a try for quite some time. Now you have so much relish! Can’t wait to see what you use it for. 🙂

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    • I happen to love this recipe and now that I’m canning (He admitted reluctantly) there was no reason not to make some. I really should have made a full batch, though. I gave away plenty to friends and now I’m wondering if I’ll have any of my own left by Thanksgiving. I may have to make another batch. It will depend upon how good the corn looks at the farmers market tomorrow.

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    • I really do like it, in fact, I just made a 2nd batch. I gave away so much of the 1st batch that I was afraid I’d run out by November. Now I’ve got plenty and I am one happy corny canner. If you do make some, please let me know what you think of it. Good luck!

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    • Well, you don’t have to can it — although then you have to worry about it spoiling if you don’t eat it quickly enough. To be honest, I’d sworn that I’d never can, but, here I am. This Summer, I’ve canned, jam, jelly, corn relish, ketchup, and, today, apple sauce. I was literally laughing as I typed that last statement. Never in a million years …

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    • I think you would enjoy the corn relish. For us, here in the North, having corn relish in the Winter is a way to bring a little bit of Summer to the dinner table. The spiders? I’ve never outgrown that irrational fear and still avoid them at all costs. The only good spider is a squashed spider! 🙂

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    • I’m a vinegar-lover, too! You may recall that when you asked for tips I suggested using vinegar in sauces & marinades. You replied how much you loved vinegar and I think you’ll love this relish. It’s good in its own right but it brings a little of that vinegar goodness to whatever entree is being served.

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  14. Super relish! I do a refrigerator corn relish, that will last for a week or two. Of course if I make this in the winter I can’t use fresh corn, but frozen actually works quite well in this dish (and you can even used canned – rinse the corn first! – in a pinch and it’ll be OK). Anyway, your recipe looks excellent. I keep saying it, but one of these days canning is going to happen at my place! Good stuff – thanks.

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    • You needn’t can this recipe if that’s your preference, John. Like your relish, it will last a short while in the fridge. I’ve used frozen corn, as well,and been very pleased with the results. I’ve yet to try canned corn, though, and with such an ample supply of frozen, I doubt I ever will. Have you posted your recipe? I’d love to give it a try. Living in Illinois, there certainly is enough corn lying around this time of year. 🙂
      Thanks, John for never failing to leave a great comment and compliment.

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