Beet Relish

Beets, cabbage and horseradish.

Beets by k_hargrav, on Flickr

In Russian Jewish tradition, horseradish and beets together make chrein, which means, unoriginally enough, “horseradish.” It’s the traditional condiment to serve with gefilte fish.

Gefilte fish, if you’re not initiated, is actually boned, ground, and poached whitefish quinelles, typically served cold in stock or aspic. It has something of a bad name; in truth, it’s the canning process more than anything that does violence to an otherwise delicious food. It’s incredibly simple to make from scratch and, in my view, even better when served hot.

That said, the combination of chrein and cold gefilte fish is actually quite a bit like wasabi and white tuna, with a sliken texture that melts in your mouth and the spice of the condiment cutting off any fishiness.

Here’s a version from the October 15, 1908 edition of the Indianapolis Star (and a recipe for “good pickles” too):

Beet Relish

One quart of cooked, chopped beets, one quart of raw, chopped cabbage, one-half teacup of horseradish, two teacupfuls of sugar, one tablespoon of salt, vinegar to moisten thoroughly.

Good Pickles—Lay cucumbers in salt water to swim an egg for twenty-four hours, wipe dry, take enough cold vinegar to cover cucumbers, sugar to taste, one-fourth pound of mixed spices, one-fourth pound of ground mustard and one piece of alum size of a pea and piece of ginger root to harden. Be sure not to boil vinegar.

Mrs. Katie Black.
75 East Eighth street, Pern, Ind.

For an explanation of floating an egg, see the post for cured ham and bacon.

From the box of A.D. from Lutz, Florida, by way of Pennsylvania in the 1940s, and originating in Ohio in the 1920s.

Beet Relish

Four cups of chopped cooked beets
Two cups of chopped raw cabbage
One cup of grated horseradish

Mix all ingredients and add sufficient vinegar to cover. Pour into sterilized bottles and seal.

Yesterdish reminder: People who use modern canning methods live longer. It’s true, it’s science.*

*educated supposition based on lower risk of dying

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