What Is Relish? It’s Not Just Pickles

We all know the condiments that people usually squirt on their burgers and hot dogs: You got your ketchup of course. There’s your classic mustard. You can even throw down a little mayo. But what condiment do you bust out when you want to be a little fancy goober? That’s when you reach for the relish my friend! We’ve all seen relish, but what is relish? What is it made of? What’s actually in relish? Does it go bad? Does relish need to be refrigerated? And what does relish taste like? Please don’t ever move a muscle because we have done the research for you.

What is relish? 

Relish is a preserved, chunky, vinegary condiment made out of finely chopped fruits, and/or vegetables. That’s right, it’s not only made with pickles!

So, what is relish made of? 

Relish can be made out of all kinds of fruits and veggies and can come in all sorts of flavors and colors. But the kind most folks in the US of A are familiar with is pickle relish. But even then, there is a pretty big variety. There’s sour dill relish, sweet pickle relish, and pickle relish with a mustard or ketchup base to name a few.  

But seriously, what is in relish? 

The one ingredient all relish has in common is vinegar. It’s used to preserve the fruit or veggie base. Relish usually contains a fruit, a vegetable, or a mixture of both, plus sugar, plus vinegar. Other things like herbs or spices can be added on top of that mix. 

What does relish taste like? 

Well, that depends on what’s in it! All relish should have bright, zesty flavors with a rich, slightly acidic aftertaste. The vinegar and sugar should make for tangy-sweet goodness. Pickle relish is sometimes sour, and sometimes sweet. Other types of relish that have their own distinct flavors are mango, cranberry, onion, corn, and tomato. Relish is pretty different from other condiments in that it’s freaking chunky. Most other condiments are smooth. If you have chunky ketchup or mayonnaise, you might want to throw them away. Chutney is a similar condiment to relish but it tends to be a little mushier. 

Does relish go bad? 

Yes, relish goes bad. Even though it’s a preserve, it doesn’t last forever. In fact, nothing does. It’s a pretty good rule of thumb that if you’re asking if something goes bad, just assume that it does. It’s best to follow the date printed on packaging of store bought relish. Unopened containers can probably last for around 30 months and up to 3 months once opened. If you make homemade relish, it should last a week, unless you have some hardcore canning capabilities. 

Does relish need to be refrigerated?

Yes, relish needs to be refrigerated if it is opened. If it’s not opened, you can store it, unrefrigerated, in a cool dry place. But come on, no one wants warm relish. Just keep that sucker in the fridge. But don’t put it in my fridge because mine is already full of relish. I might need to get a second, non-relish fridge.

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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