How to Make Sweet Pickle Relish (the healthier way)

Your family will be so excited that I am giving you this recipe.  Yes, the very strong smell of onions, cucumbers and vinegar cooking on your stove will bring them to tears and make them beg for a spoonful.  (Or rather they will be like my boys and come downstairs with a disgusted look on their faces while holding their noses asking WHAT in the world you are making.)

Don’t worry…the smell in your kitchen goes away.  Eventually.  And then you are left with several jars of sweet pickle relish…enough to last you quite a while.  (This recipe makes more than a year’s supply for our family.  We don’t tend to go through pickle relish very quickly, but I really like having it on hand.)

If you have a few extra cucumbers and enjoy adding sweet pickle relish to your tuna salad, etc…you’ll like this healthier version.  I cut the sugar in half compared to the other recipes I found..plus used organic sucanat (dehydrated cane sugar juice) instead of regular sugar and it is plenty sweet enough for our taste!

Sweet Pickle Relish

8 medium sized cucumbers
2 large onions
2 sweet green peppers
1 sweet red pepper 
1/3 cup sea salt
3 cups rapadura or sucanat
3 cups apple cider vinegar
2 T. whole celery seed
2 T. whole mustard seed

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Begin by slicing the cucumbers, peppers and onions.

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Chop the vegetables into tiny pieces. 
I find that putting them into my food processor works best for this.

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Pour the chopped veggies into a large bowl. 
Cover them with water and let them soak for about two hours (longer won’t hurt).

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Pour the soaked veggies through a strainer until all the water is drained out.

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Pour strained veggies into a bowl and add remaining ingredients.

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Stir well.

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Pour contents of bowl into a large pot.  Bring to a boil.

Simmer relish for ten minutes, then transfer it into pint sized jars.  (I was able to make six full pints, with a little bit leftover.)

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Following these hot water bath canning methods,
process the pickle relish for 10 minutes (from start of boiling).

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Six beautiful jars of pickle relish all ready to go!

You’ll find more preserving help and tutorials in my Gardening and Preserving ebook!

The cost for this relish was very low, as the cucumbers were given to me for free and the other veggies came from my garden.  The added ingredients were low cost as it all divided into SIX jars of pickle relish!  Each jar only cost a few cents.  I LOVE gardening season!

This post is linked to Frugal Fridays.

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Comments

  1. says

    I know this might be a dumb question but do I need to store it in the refrigerator…freezer on in my pantry?????????

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    If you put it through the hot water bath process…it’s fine to store them in your pantry. I’ve had some in mine for over two years before and they did great!

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  2. says

    This is so neat! We LOVE LOVE LOVE pickle relish, and I always feel bad buying it because of what’s in it. This recipe is perfect for us. I also hope to try the Nourishing Traditions lacto-fermented pickles sometime, then chop those up for relish. We use pickle relish and mayonnaise to whip up tartar sauce, too.

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  3. Jessica says

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I want to try this! Hopefully my cucumbers will start growing soon!

    [Reply]

  4. Step says

    Thanks!!!! Funny, but I was just thinking about homemade pickle relish the other day when we had hot dogs for dinner. My eldest boy was looking at the ingredients on the jarred relish and couldn’t believe how much sugar was in it. Yes, my kids are label readers just like their mom — lol!

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  5. says

    you don’t happen to have a mayo recipe. I do the nourishing tradtions one but it just doesnt’ cut it for me. I saw that the wilderness family naturals offers a mayonaise. Has anyone tried this?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I haven’t tackled making my own mayo yet. Yes, I agree with Jessica about trying Lindsey’s recipe!

    [Reply]

  6. Keli says

    can this be frozen? i don’t have a canner or supplies yet but would love to make this as i don’t know when i will aquire one. thanks.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’ve never frozen relish before, but I don’t know why it wouldn’t work!

    [Reply]

    Lisa Reply:

    Keli I don’t have a canner either I use a large pot with a lid. I make jams, jellies, dill pickles, bread and butter pickles and now im going to tackle this relish as it sounds great. Don’t let anyone tell you that you HAVE to have a canner cause i have never owned one. I buy my jars at Walmart for less than 8 bucks a box and if you don’t have anything to lift the cans out with just use your tongs until you can get some. Good luck in your canning =)

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  7. Danielle says

    I guess I’m in the canning mode because I saw this and whipped out a batch today. Very very tasty!! So now I can definitely recommend this recipe. I’m thinking of doing another batch and saving them to put in some kind of food basket for Christmas gifts.

    [Reply]

  8. kelly says

    Can I substitute zucchini for the cucumbers? I have an over abundance of zucchini, but the cucumbers are stuggling.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Mmm, no I don’t think so. I WISH it would work because then we would have more options of recipes to make with all that zucchini! But the taste and texture just wouldn’t be the same I don’t think. :(

    [Reply]

    Tara Reply:

    For all of you asking about using zucchini for relish, YES you can use it. I made sweet relish last year using zucchini and yellow squash. Very tasty. I gave some to my mom and she just eats it straight out of the jar. It’s really good on steak.

    [Reply]

    Donna Reply:

    I have used zucchini instead of cucumbers for years in a sweet relish and we love it. My mom got a blue ribbon on it at the fair.

    [Reply]

  9. Shanda says

    I made this and it turned out delicious. I did change it a bit in that I added the salt to the vegetables before adding the water for soaking. That is how I have read about it being done in most recipes and wondered if you forgot to mention that on this recipe. Thanks for the great recipe.

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  10. Cathy says

    Would this be similar to gherkin relish? I’m wanting to make something to replace bought gherkin relish by masterfoods.

    [Reply]

  11. Jen says

    Laura, Do you have a recipe for canning regular dill pickles? I have seen the mixtures in packages at the store, but can’t convince myself that i need to buy them. Do you have a homemade recipe for them? Thanks

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I don’t have one, but maybe I’ll work on that next canning season!

    [Reply]

  12. Helen says

    Laura, Explain, pls, what is the purpose of soaking the chopped vegetables for a few hours? I thought the minerals and vitamins level would drop significantly after this… Can not find the answer for salted and no-salt soaking methods difference either :-( Help!!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I WISH I knew! All I know is that every recipe I’ve seen tells you to soak ‘em! I’ll keep searching and maybe I can figure out why. I feel like I’ve heard the reason before, but I can’t remember!

    [Reply]

    Marg Reply:

    Salt dehydrates plant tissues (they are 90% water), therefore; reducing water content = more taste/less waste.

    [Reply]

    Marg Reply:

    Whoops! forgot to add rinse rinse rinse.

  13. says

    I hadn’t had relish in..oh…20 years? I remember eating it as a kid and liking it. So I decided I’d try this out because I love to eat food that has a ton of flavors in it. I made a few small changes — reduced sugar even more (2 c.), used banana peppers instead of red peppers (it’s what I had), used ground mustard instead of whole (again, what I had) and use a grater on most of it (no food processor). I had a little leftover, too, so I tasted it. SO GOOD! Need to make more now (only made 1/2 batch). I want to make a hot dog just to eat it with this relish. I think I’d eat the relish by itself off a spoon though. And yes, I actually DID like the way it smelled when cooking. :)

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  14. mysticmichigan says

    do i use regular cucumbers or pickling kind….can’t wait to try this…and what about replacing cukes for zucchini

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I don’t think zucchini would work, cukes work best.

    [Reply]

  15. Anne says

    Can you buy whole celery seed and whole mustard seed at the grocery store? I have celery seed, but it does not say whole.

    [Reply]

    mysticmichigan Reply:

    i think it is the same…..i jst use celery seed from grocery store….

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yeah, it’s the same thing.. :)

    [Reply]

  16. Ann says

    The reason you soak the cucumber in salt water before making the relish is that the salt water draws out any bitterness in the cucumber.

    [Reply]

  17. Sonia says

    What kind of cucumbers are these? How long are they? I’m only asking because the cucumbers we grow (not sure of the kind) are not that big to start.. so I’m thinking I would need more than 8… It looks like yours might be English cucumbers?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’m sorry I don’t know. I got them from a friend’s garden last year.

    [Reply]

  18. Lyndsay says

    Can you sub white vinegar for the apple cider? We have a little guy with apple allergy. Now I am excited to see all those tiny cucumbers grow into pickle relish (if only it were that easy!)

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, that should be just fine!

    [Reply]

  19. Kim in AZ says

    I know that the rapadura or sucanat make it healthier but I am an hour from the closest Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, etc. where I could get these at a decent price. Could I substitute granulated sugar? (I know that would take away some of the health benefits). Thanks! I scored with some cucumbers and bell peppers today and would love to make a batch rather than have to wait until my next trip to the grocer’s an hour away to get the sucanat.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    I was wanting to know the same thing. I am planning on making this, this weekend. I’ll let you know how things go for me witht the gran. sugar.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, granulated sugar would substitute just fine – you can substitute it one for one in this recipe!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Thanks so much!!

    [Reply]

  20. Jeanne says

    Hello
    Another reason that the cucs’ are soaked in brine is to take the Burb
    out of them. Mama liked cucs’, but they didn’t like her. But when she made the Bread & Butter pickles they never bothered her.
    The relish recipe sounds so good, would a blender work instead of a food
    processor?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I think it should work okay!

    [Reply]

  21. Jennifer says

    I was wondering if you have had any problems with the canner and your flat stove? I am so afraid mine is going to break. I believe I have the same canner you do and mine sticks over the burner about an inch all around. I have seen some sites say that you can’t get a full rolling boil with a flat stove since they don’t get quit as hot. Any suggestions?

    [Reply]

    Sarah Reply:

    Jennifer, I have a flat top stove and I will not take a chance with ruining it, so I bought a single burner patio stove for using outside. This keeps the heat out of my kitchen and is the best alternative to possibly destroying your stove top. I know people do use their glass top stoves, but I think it’s too risky.

    If you google “Bayou Classic single burner stove,” you’ll find what I’m using. I just hook a propane tank to it and place it in the shade on my porch. A lot of people can this way.

    Laura, this relish recipe is just what I was looking for. Thank you.

    [Reply]

  22. Jennifer says

    Just wanted to let you know that I ended up using my flat stove top and it worked out just fine. I didn’t have a problem boiling the water-as my stove up heats up enough to do this. I probably shouldn’t have taken the chance, but I have had my stove top for years and felt that if I did by chance break it-it was time for a new one anyways. The relish recipe was wonderful!!! I love it! I do have a question though. The seeds in my cucumbers were hard. I didn’t find this out until after I had made the relish. Not for sure why. Have you delt with this yet?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    No, I’m sorry, I haven’t dealt with this. Strange that they were hard. :( Glad your flat top worked. I’ve been canning this way for years and never had a problem!

    [Reply]

  23. hannah says

    I don’t have sea salt yet and cucumbers are on sale this week. Can I substitute kosher salt, and would it be the same 1/3 cup?
    Also I don’t have those alternative sugars, could I get away with using less than 3 cups of regular white sugar instead?

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    That should work out. :)

    [Reply]

  24. Miranda says

    I have some pickle relish questions!
    1) I have a gallon jar of pickle relish that I bought at Sam’s and am wondering if I could transfer it to pint or quart canning jars and “re-process” them in a boiling water bath so I could store them in the cupboard until they’re opened. I don’t have room in my fridge for that great big jar.
    2) If not, does anyone know if pickle relish can be frozen?
    3) I’d like to try this recipe, but don’t think I can get unwaxed cukes here (I don’t think they are grown in Hawaii); does anyone know if the cukes MUST be unwaxed to make Laura’s relish? Thanks!

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    You should be able to “re-process” them. They will store for up to 2 years. You also could try freezing it…not sure how it would work though. I think no matter what
    kind of cucumber you use it should be fine.

    [Reply]

    Miranda Reply:

    I think I’ll try freezing a little bit to see how it fares and
    go from there. Thanks for your help!
    Miranda

    [Reply]

  25. Krisha says

    Hi Laura, I’m going to start making this right now!! So much harvest – which is awesome.
    Question about the recipe, are we soaking in a salt brine or just water? Your recipe says soak in water, but that seems contradictory to what I know…help. :-)

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    Laura just uses water! :)

    [Reply]

  26. Arti says

    I have never canned before, but am wanting to avoid all the faux sugar relish options out there! I have the Kerr’s quart size jars & am only wanting to make a small batch of relish-maybe one or two jars worth. If I want to store them both in the fridge, do I still need to put the jars through a hot water bath or can I just fill the hand washed jars (lids & seals hand washed as well) with the relish & store them in the fridge? I’m so excited to give the a try!! How does this compare to typical store bought sweet relish? Thanks in advance!!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    No, if you’re just going to store it in the fridge, there’s no need to do anything but make the relish then put it into a container in the fridge! I think this tastes similar to store bought relish, only fresh!

    [Reply]

    arti Reply:

    Thank you! That makes it so much easier to put together! Can’t wait to give it a try!

    [Reply]

  27. Miranda says

    I have huge cukes, larger than normal. I am wondering if you know about how many cups of cukes you are using since I cannot go by the amount.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’d guess is something like 15 cups of cucumbers. :)

    [Reply]

  28. Mary says

    About gagged when I tasted how salty it was. . .Then I researched other recipes. . .looks like 1/3 cup of salt into 6 pints of relish is not what you meant. . .I think the salt was in the soaking water, not in the recipe. . The salt was supposed to be stained out with the water. Might want to change that particular instruction for those of us who are ignorant. Other recipes even rinse again (to further rinse away) the salt. . . Drat anyway. . I don’t think it’s edible.

    [Reply]

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