Wolf I need to hear this story so I know if its safe to eat relish so please be as descriptive as possible.
OK, you asked. However before I start I want to say midgets rule! It's wicked to watch them try to get onto the bar stool at the bar. It's like drinking with a little kid but not illegal!
Anyhoo, first you need to know about sorting pickles (ok they're still cucumbers but I'm going to call them pickles). As the pickles come down the conveyor belt, the sorters have to pick out any that are either too big, too small, are crooks, are broken, are moldy, rotten or have been partially eaten by anything. Remember these are straight from the field and that's why we have to look for dead animals.
And pickle that is one or often more than the above defects are put down a special chute, that leads to another conveyor belt that puts them in a bin. These bins are big wooden crates full of bad pickles. Although we "aren't suppose to" (but we get yelled at if we don't do this. Fuck you management) any pickles that are on the ground along with various seasonings that go into brine, dirty and what not, are also put into this bin. Basically the only things that don't go into these bins are aprons, gloves, plastic and glass. But we know glass goes into the bins because it's on the ground.
So these bins then go into cold storage, which means they sit in cold water, frozen until the end of the season since relish is made at the end of pickle season. As you can imagine the pickles are not longer ripe since pickle season lasts about 5-6 months, may be more during a good season. The bins are removed from cold storage and the pickles are re-washed and "sorted".
When sorting pickles for relish, you are only to take out the pickles that are white and/or fuzzy. I was once yelled at because I was taking too many pickles off the line. Now when I say pickles, I use this term lightly for a couple of reasons. 1. They are still cucumbers and 2. They aren't so much pickles as leathery brown pickle skins with liquefied pickle insides. If you pick one up that is still whole and shake it, you can hear the liquid inside.
The sorted "pickles" then get ground up into this brown paste. This paste is hydraulically pumped and to a vat where it is cooked. After the cooking, hoses pump the brown paste into the jars. Brine is added to the jar along with green food colouring I believe. The jars are capped, go through a heat tunnel, labelled, packed and then shipped out.
And that, my friends, is where relish comes from. Junky, rotten pickles that weren't good enough to be turned into pickles. And we have low standards.