Garden-to-Jar Delight: Homemade Tomato and Cucumber Relish

One of the pleasures of having a garden is savouring its plentiful offerings. However, at times, there are leftovers—those extra tomatoes and cucumbers that you're not entirely sure what to do with. Instead of allowing them to go to waste, consider transforming them into a delectable homemade tomato and cucumber relish. Not only will this condiment help you use up your garden surplus, but it will also introduce a burst of flavour to your meals. In this article, we'll guide you through the straightforward process of creating relish from your garden's leftovers and preserving it in glass jars.

- Tomatoes (ripe and firm)
- Cucumbers
- Onions
- Bell peppers
- Vinegar
- Sugar
- Salt
- Spices (mustard seeds, celery seeds, and red pepper flakes for added flavour)

Step 1: Gather Your Garden Leftovers
Collect any ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and bell peppers from your garden. This relish is an excellent way to utilise those imperfect or slightly overripe vegetables that may not be suitable for other dishes.

Step 2: Prepare the Vegetables
Wash and dice the tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and bell peppers into small, uniform pieces. The size of the dice is a matter of personal preference, but smaller pieces work well for relish.

Step 3: Combine the Ingredients
In a large pot, combine the diced vegetables, vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices. Adjust the sugar and spices to taste, depending on whether you prefer a sweeter or spicier relish. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the mixture thickens.

Step 4: Sterilise Glass Jars
While your relish is simmering, sterilise glass jars and lids by washing them thoroughly or using a dishwasher. Alternatively, you can sterilise them in boiling water for a few minutes. This step is crucial for safely preserving the relish.

Step 5: Fill the Jars
Carefully ladle the hot relish into the sterilised glass jars, leaving about half an inch of space at the top. Wipe the rims of the jars clean with a damp cloth to ensure a proper seal.

Step 6: Seal the Jars
Secure the lids onto the jars, making sure they are tight but not overly so. As the jars cool, you should hear a satisfying "pop" sound as the lids create a vacuum seal. This indicates that your relish is well-preserved.

Step 7: Store Your Homemade Relish
Store the sealed jars of relish in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cupboard. Homemade relish can be stored for up to a year, but it's best enjoyed within the first few months for optimal flavour.

Transforming your garden's leftovers into homemade tomato and cucumber relish is a rewarding and sustainable way to enjoy the fruits of your labour throughout the year. With just a few simple steps, you can convert surplus produce into a flavoursome condiment that complements a variety of dishes. Moreover, storing your relish in glass jars ensures that you'll have a taste of summer's abundance whenever you desire. So, go ahead and relish the goodness of your garden in a whole new way!