Relish and cucumbers

Start to Finish

: 3 hours (1 hour active time)


: 6 to 7 pints

Difficulty Level

: Intermediate The delicate tang of sweet pickle relish is a summertime favorite whether slathered on a stadium hot dog or a hamburger on a backyard grill. Making and preserving your own sweet pickle relish with cucumbers harvested from your garden or purchased from the farmer's market is a relatively inexpensive way to ensure you'll have this condiment readily available in your pantry year-round.

  • 3 pounds fresh cucumbers, seeded (about 6, medium-sized)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
  • 3 cups white or cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 2 tablespoons celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Cut unpeeled cucumbers in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds out, using a spoon. Put cucumbers, onion and pepper quarters into a food processor and

pulse until chopped, but not pulverized

. Alternatively, chop the vegetables with a hand chopper. Place the vegetables into a large bowl. Add the salt and stir the mixture. Cover and allow it to

stand for 2 hours

. Drain the cucumber mixture into a mesh sieve placed over a bowl. Alternatively, drain it in a colander placed in the sink.

Press out as much liquid as possible,

but do not rinse. In a large pot, combine vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed and turmeric. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally to ensure the sugar is dissolved. Add the cucumber, onion and pepper mixture to the liquid. Bring the mixture back to a boil and

simmer for 10 minutes

. Remove the pan from the heat. Fill clean pint canning jars with the cucumber, onion and peppers, using a slotted spoon. Cover the cucumber mixture in each jar with the remaining brine. Ensure to

leave 1/2 inch of headspace

from the relish mixture to the top of the jar.

Wipe the rim of each jar with a damp paper towel

to ensure it is free of any brine or vegetables. Fill a saucepan about halfway with water and place it over medium heat. Place the number of canning lids required into the pan and heat until the water is very hot, but not boiling, for about 3 minutes. Place a lid on each jar. Fasten the lids in place with a canning jar ring band, hand-tightened. Fill a boiling water canner about halfway with hot water. Place the removable jar rack into the bottom of the canner. Turn the heat to "High." Heat the water to at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Load jars into the canner one at a time. Use a jar lifter to lower them into the water to avoid burns. Do not overcrowd the canner. Ensure there is space between each jar. A standard canner should hold seven or eight pint jars. Ensure the water is

1 to 2 inches over the tops of the jars

. Add more boiling water, if necessary. Put the lid on the canner and when the water comes to a rapid boil,

set a timer for 10 minutes

. Turn off the heat when the canning time has ended. Remove the lid. Carefully remove the jars from the water using a jar lifter, and place them on a kitchen towel that has been spread onto a work surface or table. Allow the jars to cool, leaving at least 1 inch of space between them.

Do not touch the jars or lids during the cooling process

. After the pickle relish is completely cooled, press down on each lid to ensure there is no "give." If there is no bulge in the center of the lid, and if that part of the lid does not move up and down when pressed, it is sealed.

Adjust the amount of onion and bell pepper

according to your personal preference. If you find you have a jar of

sweet pickle relish that has not sealed, put it in the refrigerator

and use it first.

Lower the temperature slightly during the canning process

if the water boils over in the pot. However, ensure there is a continuous, gradual boil at all times. As the jars cool,

a loud "pop" means a jar has sealed

. If you are canning with hard water, pour

1/8 to 1/4 cup white vinegar into the canning water

to prevent a film from forming on the jars.