Ohio’s Own: Pepper Relish from Rust Belt Pepper Co.
Relish, generally, can be a mixed bag. Among its variants are chow-chow, pickle relish, and chutney, all of which come in a million variations. Trends in restaurants right now lean toward aggressive recipes: super-hot and super-sour relishes.
Which is to say, a purchased jar of Pepper Relish from Rust Belt Pepper Co. was approached with caution. Sure, it’s Ohio Proud (based out of Canton, in the heart of Ohio’s rust belt), but that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt you.
While relishes are typically used as an accompaniment to other edibles, the first taste-test of any product is always straight. It makes sense: team an unknown condiment with another food and you run two risks. First, it’s easy to make a bad pairing with the mystery entity, thereby wrecking two foods at once. Second, you might miss a cool aspect of the relish, if it gets overwhelmed by the companion piece.
So, the trial started with one spoon straight out of the bottle. Then another spoon. That’s double dipping, but the first spoonful indicated that this jar was not for sharing with housemates.
The product is sublime. It’s mellow, there’s no overwhelming wave of sour or sweet or spicy heat. What’s left? It’s something akin to a really well-done ratatouille.
The association makes sense. The primary ingredients in the relish are roasted red peppers with tomato, which is roughly half the ingredients in ratatouille (zucchini and eggplant are the other players). The presence of the tomato doesn’t overwhelm the pepper with acidity. Instead, softer, garden-based flavors prevail in a mix that includes garlic and onion too.
The relish comes in original, spicy and extra spicy versions. That said, heat-freaks might miss out on the complexity and smoothness in the pure unadulterated version. As for official uses, eating out of the jar is probably not ideal. Martha Stewart suggests putting it in tuna salad or serving it with meat. Cream cheese and crackers definitely works. We also poured it over cooked summer veggies like a sauce. The whole 16oz jar was consumed within 36 hours.
While the relish is made in Canton, it’s based on a family recipe that comes from Macedonia. You can find it at local retailers listed at rustbeltpepper.com/locations.