A relish is a condiment made with chopped fruits or vegetables and a sauce. Typically, relishes are pickled, which allows them to be stored for extended periods of time for year round use. In the United States, the most common form is made from finely shopped sweet pickles, but a wide range of others can be found as well, with some hunting. It is also very easy to make this condiment at home, and many cooks prefer to do this so that they can utilize home grown ingredients or play around with flavors and textures.
Some people distinguish between relish and chutney, arguing that relish is made with vegetables, while chutney is made with fruit. This distinction is largely regional, since both can be sweet, savory, or spicy, and they are intended to pair with substantial main dishes. A small amount of these condiments usually goes a long way, since the flavors are concentrated, adding a burst of energy to the dish in question.
Fruits like cranberries, apricots, persimmons, and apples are common choices for a fruit relish, which may be made slightly sweet to bring out the fruit flavors, or more spicy. Spicy fruit relishes can be served with things like seafood, while a sweeter ones pairs well with spicy food like Indian food. Cranberry relish with shavings of lemon peel is a common offering on the table at Thanksgiving in the United States, and it can also be canned for year-round consumption, for people who enjoy the tartness of cranberry and lemon at other times of the year.
Pickled cucumbers are a common feature in vegetable relish, although other veggies may be used for more flavor and texture. Carrots, onions, peppers, eggplant, cabbage, and cauliflower sometimes pop up as well, for example. Generally, vegetable relishes may be made savory, tart, sweet, or spicy, depending on the taste of the cook and the desired application. Vegetable relishes often go well with meats such as sausage and roasts.
Some consumers are quite fond of the taste of a zesty relish on a wide range of foods. It can elevate a boring dish to make it more interesting, or help to cut an intensely spicy flavor to make a dish more tolerable to those with delicate sensibilities. For people who are only accustomed to sweet pickle relish, an adventure into the wide options available might be rather enjoyable.