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» Making Relish

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The most traditional form of relish is based in bits of cucumber to which brine and pieces are added then preserved. To be honest, my first experience making relish occurred because I was unhappy with a batch of pickles. They just weren’t quite as crisp as I hoped. Rather than waste them, I chopped them up and prepared them various ways for several batches of savory relish, completely canned for friends and family.

However, if you like a less experimental approach, begin with a dozen good, fresh cucumbers. The firmer, the better, and watch for bruises. I’d recommend using pickling cucumbers as they’re grown specifically for crispness (and if you can grow the cucumbers yourself, all the better for freshness!). You’ll also need a dozen onions (your choice), salt, vinegar (2 cups), sugar (2 cups), and seasonings like mustard seed, celery seed, or red pepper flakes (to taste/optional) – about one teaspoon total.

Dice up the cucumbers and onions to the size you prefer, or if you have a food processor / chopper use that to save time. Put these in a non-aluminum pan with the rest of the ingredients and cook over a medium heat for fifteen minutes. Let cool a bit then transfer into your canning jars and process for about 15 minutes in a hot water wash. Please follow all your normal safety procedures for making sure jars are sealed and properly labeled.

Note, I have tried cold processing on cucumber-based relish. While it yields a crunchier relish, I do not believe its as safe as the traditional approach cook-first approach. Having said that, your creativity need not be constrained by this basic blend. Last year I made garlic relish, horseradish relish, mustard relish (great for hot dogs), and jalapeno relish, all of which were resounding successes.

Truth be told, the recipe was pretty much the same but for the additional elements to change up the flavor and personalize the product for gift giving. Because of this, I always tell people to experiment a bit. Not everything will turn out perfectly, but most recipes can be rescued, and the real wonders that result will be well worth your time. Make sure you keep those recipes safe to use again in the future.


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