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Homemade Sweet Pickle Relish a Favorite Old Fashioned Canning Recipe

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This homemade sweet pickle relish recipe is so good, doesn’t have any food colouring, uses local water and freshly locally grown cucumbers and onions.

If you have never canned relish before you will be surprised how easy it is. This recipe is large but you can make it smaller and store it in the fridge if you prefer. Once you’ve tried making this homemade relish, I doubt you will ever want to buy relish again. Your hotdogs and hamburgers will be so darn good.

Pickle Relish Ingredients

6 large cucumbers

3 onions

2 1/2 tbsp pickling salt

2 pints water

2 – 3 cups white sugar

1 1/2 – 2 cups pickling vinegar

1 1/2 tsp pickling spice

canning jars

The amount of sugar and vinegar you added to the sweet pickle relish is a bit of a judgment call, that depends a bit on your personal preference. If you prefer sweeter use more sugar and less vinegar. If you prefer tart, less sugar and more vinegar. I suggest starting with the least amounts of sugar and vinegar, then taste testing it, and then adding more sugar or vinegar if needed.

This relish recipe consists of two main ingredients, cucumbers and onion. Start by washing your cucumbers really well in cold water. Cut off the ends of the cucumbers and peel them as shown with some of the peel left on. If you remove all the peel the relish has very little colour, if you leave all the rind on I find it makes the relish bitter.

After the cucumbers are peeled, remove the skins from the onions.

Partially peeled cucumbers with the ends trimmed off, sitting on a cutting board before being processed into relish.

I own a food grinder that is so handy for grating the cucumbers and onions, if you don’t have a food grinder, you can grate the ingrediences, or chop them very fine.

Grinding cucumbers and onions for making homemade sweet pickle relish.

Grind all the pickles and onions into a large bowl. Add the pickling salt, and let sit overnight in the fridge. The next day place the mixture into a colander over a bowl and set aside to drain for a couple of hours. You will likely see a couple cups or more of water drain off. Just throw it out.

A large collander filled with a mixture of grated cucumber, relish and pickling salt. The colander is sitting over top of a large bowl, allowing the water to drain out.

When making homemade relish everything has to be very clean. All the work surfaces need to be clean, including all the dishcloths etc.

While the relish is straining, sterilize your jars. There are different ways sterilize canning jars, but we boiled ours on the stove top.

Wash and rinse your jars. Take a very large pot, and fill it with hot ( not boiling) water. Place the jars open side up into the pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the jars plus an inch. If you have room you can place your rings and lids in the same pot, if not place them in a second pot and boil like the canning jars.

Six canning jars with lids and ring being sterilized for canning pickles.

Bring the water to a boil and let boil ten minutes. Once boiling turn the stove temperature down but make sure the water keeps simmering. This is especially important when making the relish.

Remove your jars one at a time as you need them, be cautious as the jars are hot. I use rubber ended tongs and a pot holder.

Cooking and Hot Packing Sweet Pickle Relish

This is a hot pack canning recipe, meaning you don’t need to process the jars after filling. (If you feel the need to process the jars after hot packing, process them in a canner for 15 minutes.)

To a very large 6 to 8 quart stainless steel pot, combine the sugar, vinegar, water, and spices over medium heat, cook until boiling then add your grated cucumber and onions. Continue to cook the relish over medium heat until boiling. Stirring regularly, let simmer for at least five minutes before filling your jars.

A large pot of sweet pickle relish being cooked on the stove for canning.

Being careful not to get burned take a hot jar from the boiling water.

Ladel the hot relish into a hot jar leaving a half inch of air space at the top of each jar.

Wipe the jar rim and rings with a clean damp cloth. Immediately add the hot lid and ring and twist the jar closed.

Repeat the process with the remaining relish, filling a jar at a time.

A batch of homemade sweet pickle relish hot pack canned into half pint jars.

Don’t touch the jars while cooling. As the jars cool you will hear them “pop”. Once the jars are cool, push on the lids to test if they are sealed. If the lids push down they aren’t sealed. This can happen for lots of reasons, maybe the jar wasn’t hot enough, or their isn’t quite enough relish inside etc. If a jar doesn’t seal, I simple store it in the fridge instead of the cupboard.

Unlike pickles you can eat relish right away. It tastes better after about a week though, by then the flavours start to blend.

This is a good simple sweet relish, free of alum, horrible tartrazine or other food colourings, and you know the water used is clean.

Jars of homemade sweet pickle relish made with onions, cucumbers and pickling spices.

Other Pickle Recipes to Try

Homemade dill pickle recipe in jars

Dill Pickle Recipe

Dilled Beans and Carrots

Six pretty mason jars full of dill pickled carrots and beans.

Pickled Beans and Carrots Recipe

A batch of homemade sweet pickle relish hot pack canned into half pint jars.

Homemade Sweet Pickle Relish a Favorite Old Fashioned Canning Recipe

Simple old fashioned sweet pickle relish. This relish has no extra ingredients and no alum or food colouring.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:30 mins
Cook Time:20 mins
20 mins
Total Time:1 hr 10 mins

Ingredients

  • 6 large cucumbers Or 5 lbs
  • 3 onions
  • 2 ½ tbsp pickling salt (don’t substitute)
  • 2 pints water
  • 2 – 3 cups sugar to taste
  • 1 1/2- 2 cups pickling vinegar to taste
  • 1 ½ tsp pickling spice

Instructions

  • Wash, trim, and peel most of the skin off of the cucumbers. Cut and peel onions.
    Partially peeled cucumbers with the ends trimmed off, sitting on a cutting board before being processed into relish.
  • Place the cucumbers and onions through a grinder or a food processor. Add the pickling salt and stir well. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.
  • Place the relish in a colander and let drain for 2-3 hours.
    A large collander filled with a mixture of grated cucumber, relish and pickling salt. The colander is sitting over top of a large bowl, allowing the water to drain out.
  • To a very large 6 to 8 quart stainless steel pot, combine the sugar, vinegar, water, and spices over medium heat, cook until boiling then add your cucumber and onion mixture.
  • Continue to cook the relish over medium heat until boiling. Stirring regularly, let simmer for at least five minutes before filling your jars.
    A large pot of sweet pickle relish being cooked on the stove for canning.
  • Make sure your jars are sterile and hot, ladle the hot relish into the jar. Wipe the jar rim and rings with a clean damp cloth. Quickly add the lid and ring.
  • Set the jars aside while they cool. Sealed jars will “pop” when cooling. If the jars don’t seal simply place the relish in the fridge.
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Servings: 4 pints
Cost: $6

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8 Comments

  1. Is this shelf safe without water bathing it

    1. Yes. It’s a very old recipe that I literally made for 45 years. Its called hot packing, as long as the seal snaps down on the lid its good. If your concerned you can water bath it for ten minutes, while the jars are still hot, but I never have. I hope that helps Julie.

  2. Cynthia Burell says:

    I added a red and orange sweet pepper (diced to the first boil)

  3. Leslie Watkins says:

    There appears to be a bit of red in this relish…is that from spice?

    1. Hi Leslie. Its likely my photo taking skills lol. There is nothing red in the recipe at all.

    1. If you like spicy, maybe you could add some fresh jalapenos? The great thing about this recipe is you can play with it to suit your taste buds.

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