Grandpa’s Homemade Tomato Relish: A Family Treasure And Your New Obsession

Grandpa's homemade tomato relish is a coveted family treasure. After years of obsessively savoring this tangy, sweet, addictive relish. Now it's your turn!
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Our family has treasured Grandpa’s homemade tomato relish recipe for decades. The vibrant red relish perfectly balances sweet and tart with a gentle warmth from spices like cumin, curry powder, and English mustard.

Grandpa was constantly tweaking and perfecting his relish recipe. We think he finally cracked the code with this addictively delicious version. We’re thrilled to finally share this coveted family recipe so it can become your new obsession!

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When Grandpa made a batch, we all got some. It lasted only a short time, and even now, I share it with the family when I make a batch. However, I can never get the same flavor I remember when my grandpa made it.

Writing this article and recipe takes me down memory lane. My Grandpa passed away many years ago, so it is about time I shared his recipe. A recipe becomes more valuable when it is shared. This can also become your family’s treasured recipe from my family to yours.

Grandpa’s Homemade Tomato Relish

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The Signature Ingredients In Grandpa’s Homemade Tomato Relish Recipe

Grandpa was also a chef and he knew fresh tomatoes and great ingredients were key for letting the fresh tomato flavor shine. Over the years, he settled on using just a few simple whole food ingredients to perfectly complement the sweet and tangy tomato relish.

The Ingredients

  • 2kg (4.4lb) Ripe tomatoes.
  • 2 tablespoons Curry powder.
  • 2 tablespoons Whole cumin seeds.
  • Rice bran or sunflower oil.
  • 2 large Brown onions.
  • 6 Cloves garlic.
  • 1 cup Apple cider vinegar.
  • 1 cup Brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons English mustard.
  • 3 tablespoons Sea salt.
  • ¼ cup Plain flour.
  • 1 teaspoon Curry powder.
  • 1 teaspoon English mustard.
Homemade Tomato Relish Ingredients
  • Fresh Tomatoes — I get the juicy beefsteak tomatoes from our local farmers market. They are from a regular grower there and are usually picked the day before. Look for ripe or even over-ripe tomatoes. The juicy, sweet, fresh flavor can’t be replicated with grocery store or canned tomatoes.
    • When choosing tomatoes, pick locally grown heirlooms whenever possible for the most flavor. Beefsteak varieties like Brandywine have that classic sweet and acidic tomato tang that pairs perfectly with vinegar, brown sugar, and spices.
  • Brown Onions — Grandpa would use common brown onions. The onions add aromatic sweetness to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. When purchasing onions, stay away from sprouting or soft onions.

Chefs Pro Tip — When dicing onions, be sure to use a sharp knife instead of a dull one. A sharp blade makes clean, even cuts without crushing the onion and releasing as much acidic liquid that causes you to tear up. A blunt knife often mashes and rips the onion, spilling more of the intense onion juice that irritates your eyes.

  • Fresh Garlic Cloves — Of course no sauce or relish in Grandpa’s kitchen was complete without the addition of garlic. He would add about six coarsely chopped cloves per batch. This may seem like a lot, but it provides the subtle background bass note to the melody of spiced tomato flavor.
    • Choose fresh, firm local garlic heads. I started crushing the garlic in a mortar and pestle. Cooking mellows and sweetens the potent garlic flavor beautifully.
  • Aromatic Spices — While the tomatoes are the star, the spices in Grandpa’s recipe are the supporting act. Whole cumin adds earthiness and exotic spiciness. Curry powder contributes an exotic yet comforting Indian flavor note. They give the relish depth and a beautiful flavor dimension. Mustard is also added to the homemade tomato relish to provide another layer of flavor.

The Magic Powers Of Vinegar And Brown Sugar

  • Brown Sugar — The depth of molasses flavors in brown sugar adds structure to our homemade tomato relish. Brown sugar has a more complex, caramel-like flavor than white sugar due to its molasses content. The molasses adds rich, toffee-like notes.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar — Acetic acid is a natural preservative that can help pickled and fermented foods last longer without spoiling quickly. This makes it perfect for making homemade tomato relish.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Brown Sugar

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Grandpa’s Genius Homemade Tomato Relish Techniques

Grandpa didn’t keep an exact measured recipe. However, over the years, I have paid close attention to capturing his technique and amounts by sight, smell, and taste. Follow his simple steps closely for homemade tomato relish success!

Peeling The Tomatoes

This is something Grandpa would get me to do. Peeling the tomatoes removes the stringy bits of tomato skin that form when the tomatoes are cooked.

Remove the cores from the tomatoes and cut a small cross on the bottom. Drop fresh tomatoes into boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then transfer immediately to an ice bath to stop them from cooking. The skins will now easily slip right off. Now dice the tomatoes into evenly sized pieces.

Blanching Fresh Tomatoes
Blanched and Peeled Fresh Tomatoes

Toasting The Spices

Blooming spices like cumin seeds and curry powder to release the flavor oils is paramount. Grandpa would heat them briefly in the same pot he used for the relish to impart extra warmth and fragrance.

Cumin — Adds earthiness and exotic spiciness. Grandpa would toast two tablespoons of whole cumin seeds with vegetable oil in his heavy stainless steel pot for 30 seconds. Or until fragrant.

Curry Powder — The curry powder contributes an exotic yet comforting Indian flavor note. Grandpa would then briefly toast two tablespoons to open their flavor notes before adding onions and garlic.

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Sweating The Onions and Garlic

Before adding his chopped tomatoes to the pot, Grandpa would soften the onion and garlic by sweating them briefly on medium heat. Sweating them gently for about 5 minutes enhances the natural sugars and creates a beautiful sweetness to balance against the acidity of the vinegar and tomatoes.

Grandpa would slowly bring the relish to a simmer. He would then turn the heat down and let it tick over for 1 ½-2 hours.

Then, he mixed plain flour, curry powder, mustard, and water to create a slurry. This would be whisked into the homemade tomato relish to thicken it. He would then simmer it for 15 more minutes.

Grandpa’s Homemade Tomato Relish Recipe

Grandpa’s coveted homemade tomato relish recipe is in all its sweet and tangy glory. This exact method and hand-crafted process reflect generations of relish-making traditions in Grandpa’s kitchen. Through the years, he perfected the most incredible tomato relish ever created.

Preparation

  1. Core the tomatoes and remove the skins. Dice into evenly sized pieces to yield about 6 cups. Peel, halve and evenly dice the onion to lose about 2 cups. Finely chop the garlic. Or you can crush it in a mortar and pestle to release its aromatic flavor.
Peeling Tomatoes For Homemade Tomato Relish

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Cooking The Tomato Relish

  1. Heat a stainless steel pot to medium heat, and add a drizzle of rice bran or sunflower oil. Toast two tablespoons of whole cumin seeds and two tablespoons of curry powder for 30 seconds. Or until fragrant.
  2. Add the onions, garlic, and sweat for 5 minutes until softened and translucent. Then add the diced tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar, English mustard, and sea salt.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar, English mustard, and sea salt to the pot. Slowly bring the relish to a simmer. Then turn the heat down and let it tick over for 1 ½-2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes. The relish will have reduced slightly.
  4. Then, mix plain flour, curry powder, mustard, and water to create a slurry. Whisk this into the homemade tomato relish to thicken it. Simmer for 15 more minutes to cook out the flour.

Chef Pro Tip — Always use stainless steel pots and utensils when making vinegary condiments like relishes or chutneys. Avoid using pots made from reactive metals like aluminum or copper. Unlike reactive metals, stainless steel’s nonporous finish won’t leach metallic flavors into the food or corrode from contact with vinegar’s high acidity.

Cooking Grandpa's Homemade Tomato Relish

Bottling The Relish

  1. You can sterilize the jars; first, allow cleaned jars to come to room temperature. Then, carefully fill them with boiling water and let them sit for 2-3 minutes. Drain the jars. The residual heat will evaporate any remaining moisture. Finally, sterilize the lids in a separate bowl of hot boiled water before use. This heating process removes any bacteria for safe long-term storage of preserved foods.

Chefs Pro Tip — Jar sterilization is essential. Make sure you wash and rinse the jars first. Place the jars on a towel to prevent cracking or breakage when adding hot, boiled water.

  1. Using a stainless steel jug, pour the finished tomato relish into the sterilized jars. Full them to the top, leaving about 2cm (½-inch) space from the top. Try not to spill too much relish on the rims of the jars. Once the jars are full, screw on the lids.
    • I like to turn the jars upside down and let them cool down. This should take about 12 hours. Once they are cool, please place them in a dark, cool place. Your pantry would be an excellent place to store them. Let me sit for about three months before opening.
    • Once a jar is opened, store it in the refrigerator. The jars can be kept unopened for up to one year.
Pouring Hot Homemade Tomato Relish Into Jars
Cooling The Tomato Relish

Grandpa’s Homemade Tomato Relish Your New Family Heirloom Recipe

Grandpa’s homemade tomato relish has been a cherished part of my family’s traditions for as long as I can remember. The sweet yet tangy condiment has graced almost every barbecue, holiday dinner, and weekend brunch. Thanks to Grandpa tweaking his recipe into something truly special over the years.

I’m honored to finally share this coveted family recipe so his legacy can continue for generations. When I make a batch it fills the kitchen with nostalgic aromas and flavors that instantly take me back to childhood. I hope this recipe stirs up delicious memories and new family traditions in your home.

So find the ripest, juiciest tomatoes at your local farmers’ market, invite someone dear to share stirring duties, and discover why Grandpa’s homemade tomato relish became our family’s pride and joy. From my kitchen to yours, Grandpa’s homemade tomato relish.

  1. What’s The Difference Between Tomato Chutney And Tomato Relish?

    The main differences between tomato relish and tomato chutney are the ingredients used and the texture. Both tomato chutney and relish use vinegar, sugar, and salt which are staple ingredients.

    INGREDIENTS
    Tomato chutney typically uses a fruit base and aromatics like onions, garlic, and ginger. Warm spices like cayenne pepper, coriander, cardamom, or mustard seeds. It has a jam-like fruit and tomato combo.

    Tomato relish is usually tomato and vegetable-focused, highlighting ingredients like tomatoes, bell peppers, or zucchini. They are paired only with aromatics like onion garlic and spices like cumin, curry, mustard, or cayenne pepper. The flavor comes from the bright vegetable taste and sugar, vinegar, and salt.

    TEXTURE
    Tomato chutney has a thicker, jammy, or preserve-like consistency from cooking the fruit, sugar, and vinegar into a sticky, spoonable mixture.
    Tomato relish maintains the texture of the vegetables. It has a naturally loose, saucy consistency that is great for spreading.

  2. Why Do You Peel Tomatoes For Relish?

    As someone who has made countless batches of homemade tomato relish over the years. Peeling those tomatoes is a labor of love.

    I know it takes time when you likely have piles of ripe, juicy tomatoes. But trust me, taking the time to slip off those skins significantly affects the final consistency and texture.

    Tomato skins can get unpleasantly chewy and stringy or bitter when cooked down. Leaving them on can skew the relish’s beautiful, sweet, tangy balance. Plus, the skins can get stuck in your teeth, giving the relish a stringy consistency.

    I hope you have patience and take the time to peel those tomatoes. Getting the skins off ensures that vibrant, sweet, summery tomato flavor sings loud and proud. When making homemade tomato relish, that extra effort is so worth it!

  3. How Long To Leave Homemade Tomato Relish Before Eating?

    For the best flavor, leaving homemade tomato relish to rest for at least 2-3 weeks sealed in sterilized jars before enjoying is ideal. This allows the flavors to fully develop and meld together into a harmonious balance of sweet and tangy notes. I know it’s tough, but resist cracking those jars too soon!

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Cooking Is A Science And A Skill

Cooking is a science and a skill that requires a deep understanding of both the technical and creative aspects. Cooking is also a matter of precise measurements and ratios.

For example, baking is particularly sensitive to accurate measurements and temperatures. A slight deviation in the amount of an ingredient or cooking degrees can result in a completely different outcome. So, to help you, here is a handy little unit converter tool for cooking without guesswork.

Grandpa’s Homemade Tomato Relish

Grandpa’s Homemade Tomato Relish: A Family Treasure And Your New Obsession

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PREP TIME: | 20 minutes
COOK TIME: | 2 hours
COOLING TIME: | 12 hours
TOTAL TIME: | 14 hours 20 minutes
SERVINGS: | 5 medium jars
PIN PRINT RECIPE

DESCRIPTION

DISH SUMMARY

Grandpa's homemade tomato relish is a coveted family treasure. After years of obsessively savoring this tangy, sweet, addictive relish. Now it's your turn!

Ingredients

  • 2 kg Ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Curry powder
  • 2 tbsp Cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp Rice bran or sunflower oil
  • 2 large Onions brown or white
  • 6 cloves Garlic
  • 1 cup Vinegar apple cider
  • 1 cup Brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp English mustard
  • 3 tbsp Sea salt Himalayan or Maldon
  • ¼ cup Flour plain
  • 1 tsp Curry powder
  • 1 tsp English mustard

Instructions

  • Preparation — Core the tomatoes and remove the skins. Dice into evenly sized pieces to yield about 6 cups. Peel, halve and evenly dice the onion to lose about 2 cups. Finely chop the garlic. Or you can crush it in a mortar and pestle to release its aromatic flavor.
    Peeling Tomatoes For Homemade Tomato Relish
  • Cooking The Tomato Relish — Heat a stainless steel pot to medium heat, and add a drizzle of rice bran or sunflower oil. Toast two tablespoons of whole cumin seeds and two tablespoons of curry powder for 30 seconds. Or until fragrant.
    Add the onions, garlic, and sweat for 5 minutes until softened and translucent. Then add the diced tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar, English mustard, and sea salt.
    Add the diced tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar, English mustard, and sea salt to the pot. Slowly bring the relish to a simmer. Then, turn the heat down and let it tick over for 1 ½-2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes. The relish will have reduced slightly.
    Then, mix plain flour, curry powder, mustard, and water to create a slurry. Whisk this into the homemade tomato relish to thicken it. Simmer for 15 more minutes to cook out the flour.
    Cooking Grandpa's Homemade Tomato Relish
  • Bottling The Relish — You can sterilize the jars; first, allow cleaned jars to come to room temperature. Then, carefully fill them with boiling water and let them sit for 2-3 minutes. Drain the jars. The residual heat will evaporate any remaining moisture. Finally, sterilize the lids in a separate bowl of hot boiled water before use. This heating process removes any bacteria for safe long-term storage of preserved foods.
    Using a stainless steel jug, pour the finished tomato relish into the sterilized jars. Full them to the top, leaving about 2cm (½-inch) space from the top. Try not to spill too much relish on the rims of the jars. Once the jars are full, screw on the lids.
    I like to turn the jars upside down and let them cool down. This should take about 12 hours. Once they are cool, please place them in a dark, cool place. Your pantry would be an excellent place to store them. Let me sit for about three months before opening.
    Once a jar is opened, store it in the refrigerator. The jars can be kept unopened for up to one year.
    Pouring Hot Homemade Tomato Relish Into Jars

Chef Tips

  • Chefs Pro Tip — When dicing onions, use a sharp knife instead of a dull one. A sharp blade makes clean, even cut without crushing the onion and releasing as much acidic liquid that causes you to tear up. A blunt knife often mashes and rips the onion, spilling more of the intense onion juice that irritates your eyes.
  • Chef Pro Tip — Always use stainless steel pots and utensils when making vinegary condiments like relishes or chutneys. Avoid using pots made from reactive metals like aluminum or copper. Unlike reactive metals, stainless steel’s nonporous finish won’t leach metallic flavors into the food or corrode from contact with vinegar’s high acidity.
  • Chefs Pro Tip — Jar sterilization is essential. Make sure you wash and rinse the jars first. Place the jars on a towel to prevent cracking or breakage when adding hot, boiled water.
GRANDPA’S GENIUS HOMEMADE TOMATO RELISH TECHNIQUES
Peeling The Tomatoes — This is something Grandpa would get me to do. Peeling the tomatoes removes the stringy bits of tomato skin that form when the tomatoes are cooked.
Remove the cores from the tomatoes and cut a small cross on the bottom. Drop fresh tomatoes into boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then transfer immediately to an ice bath to stop them from cooking. The skins will now easily slip right off. Now dice the tomatoes into evenly sized pieces.
Toasting The Spices
Blooming spices like cumin seeds and curry powder to release the flavor oils is paramount. Grandpa would heat them briefly in the same pot he used for the relish to impart extra warmth and fragrance.
Cumin — Adds earthiness and exotic spiciness. Grandpa would toast two tablespoons of whole cumin seeds with vegetable oil in his heavy stainless steel pot for 30 seconds. Or until fragrant.
Curry Powder — The curry powder contributes an exotic yet comforting Indian flavor note. Grandpa would then briefly toast two tablespoons to open their flavor notes before adding onions and garlic.
Sweating The Onions And Garlic — Before adding his chopped tomatoes to the pot, Grandpa would soften the onion and garlic by sweating them briefly on medium heat. Sweating them gently for about 5 minutes enhances the natural sugars and creates a beautiful sweetness to balance against the acidity of the vinegar and tomatoes.

Nutrition

Serving>50g | Calories>190kcal | Carbohydrates>31g | Protein>6g | Fat>6g | Saturated Fat>1g | Polyunsaturated Fat>2g | Monounsaturated Fat>2g | Sodium>4811mg | Potassium>1144mg | Fiber>7g | Sugar>14g | Vitamin A>3392IU | Vitamin C>61mg | Calcium>103mg | Iron>4mg
COURSE:
Sauces
CUISINE:
New Zealand
KEYWORD:
Grandpa’s Relish
|
Tangy Relish
|
Tomato Relish

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