Sweet and sour relish

Serves Makes 4 jam jars


450g raw beetroot peeled and grated
225g red onions chopped
40g butter
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp of grated fresh ginger
30ml sherry vinegar
125ml red wine
Salt and pepper


Sweat the onions until soft, stir in the sugar and seasoning then add the rest of the ingredients cooking for a further 30 to 45 minutes. Pot into sterilised jars.


Today in Britain thousands of us will wade our way through gallons of bright orange,
syrupy Chinese sweet and sour sauce. This Westernised vivid, sugary version is a popular adaptation of a Chinese classic flavour combination – sweet and sour. In contrast to the mouth numbing experience that we are accustomed to with pork balls and mass produced sauce, when cooked with fresh ingredients and not too much sugar it is health enhancing.

In terms of action sweet is considered an ‘expanding’ flavour, whilst sour is a ‘contracting’ flavour. The combination of this expansion and contraction is seen as a bit like a bellows, stimulating gut motility and secretion in the face of rich, fatty food. This is another way of describing the beneficial influence of sourness (vinegar and wine) on gall bladder secretion, and sweetness (beetroot, onion, sugar) on symbionts. In other words, sweet and sour are vital flavours for the digestion of fats.


We’ve seen the sweet and sour flavour principle before with duck a l’orange. There are many different relish recipes and they all rely on this foundation.
If, like me, you indulge in a warm, hand made pie as a treat after a bracing winter walk, then whip out the relish, it can only make it better!