I started making this tangy and rather addictive relish about 12 years ago shortly after the publication of Perla Meyers’ book Fresh from the Garden. She had previously written a trendsetting book in the mid-1970s called The Seasonal Kitchen, A Return to Fresh Foods, which argued for cooking and eating with the seasons. That doesn’t seem so unusual today, especially with the startup of so many community supported agriculture farms that offer yearly or seasonal subscriptions to their harvests. However then, it was enough of a revelation to make a clean sweep of the IACP’s annual cookbook awards.
Ms. Meyers calls her recipe Curried Pepper, Corn and Cabbage Jam, but I renamed it since it’s not jammy at all. It’s somewhere between a chutney and relish. I cut the recipe in half since 6 pints of this feels like a lifetime supply. I have typically made this with a good quality curry powder, with a few things added (whole cumin seed, coriander seed and peppercorns, fresh ginger), as she does, but I suppose that a larger amount of curry powder would work, as would making your own curry concoction.
I had some extra relish since I didn’t prepare enough jars for canning so I added some to a cabbage and curly endive slaw and some to a potato salad, each dressed with light and creamy curried sauce. The sauce featured equal parts sour cream and mayonnaise, thinned with a little white wine vinegar and milk, to which I added a little mustard powder and some curry powder. Both were delicious and the relish added a summery spark.
Curried Corn Relish adapted from Perla Meyers
4 c blanched corn kernels (5-6 ears, see note below)
1 1/2 c thinly sliced cabbage (about ¼ lb)
1 1/2 c green pepper, diced to same size as corn kernels
1 c diced red onion (2 medium)
1 ½ tsp grated fresh ginger (or ½ tsp powder)
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tbsp dry mustard
1 tsp curry powder plus the ingredients below or 2 tsp:
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp whole cumin seed
1 tsp whole coriander seed
6 black peppercorns
Pinch hot pepper flakes or more to taste
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c sugar
2 c cider vinegar
1/2 c water
Prepare the corn. Add husked and clean cobs to boiling water and cook for about 5-7 minutes (until the water comes to a furious boil). Plunge into ice water for about 5 minutes (the rule of thumb is the same length of time as the blanching), then set aside to drain. Cut the kernels off the cob and add to a large saucepan.
Add the remaining ingredients. The liquid level should almost come up to the top of the kernels. If it doesn’t, add sugar, vinegar and water in the same proportion as the base recipe. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 25 minutes.
Ladle into hot jars prepared for water bath canning, making sure to release any air bubbles (put a chopstick or knife into the jar) and leaving ½-inch air space. Process for 10 minutes in boiling water, turn off heat and remove the lid, letting the jars sit for 5 minutes before removing to sit undisturbed for a day before storing. Store for 2-3 months before opening,
This recipe made 3 12-oz and 3 8 oz jars, plus some left over.