The first post for Canning Week, this recipe for Dill Pickle Relish results from an overabundance of cucumbers from my Wee Kitchen Garden. An essential ingredient in Southern-Style Mustard Potato Salad, we go through a lot here in the Saucy household; I’ll be making my own from now on. Make your own, too!
Canning Week came about because I realized that there were many recipes for canning foods that I have not shared here. People are doing more home gardening, or buying produce from farmer’s markets; as a result more people are home canning. Not only is home canning a way to preserve foods at their freshest, it’s also a way to know exactly what goes into the foods you and your family consume.
With the move of my Wee Kitchen Garden this spring, I had high hopes that the new location of the garden would yield more produce than in its old location.
I’m happy to say the garden has thrived! It has done so well, in fact, that I was overrun with cucumbers! I planted three cucumber vines, thinking that would be enough for us to have plenty to eat and to be able to make some pickles (we love pickles). Well, nine gallons of pickles later, I told Mr. Saucy I was done with pickles. Even though he gave me the stink eye about stopping with the pickles, and even though we had been eating cucumbers nearly every day, and even though I was giving cucumbers away to friends and family, he didn’t think I should pull up the cucumber vines.
Then, some friends of ours went away on vacation and I offered to pick their garden while they were gone. Their garden is not a Wee Kitchen Garden. It’s enormous! The first time I went to pick it, their cucumber vines were loaded with field cucumbers. Now, not only did I have my pickling cucumbers, but a ton of cucumbers from their garden, too! I gave many of them away, we ate some of them, but I still had a lot left (of theirs and of mine).
So, I started thinking about what else I might do with those darned cucumbers! And it hit me! Dill Pickle Relish! We go through a boatload of dill pickle relish in this house! Mr. Saucy came by his nickname honestly. He loves sauces. Every kind of sauce. But, perhaps, his favorite is tartar sauce. That man goes through some tartar sauce!
Once while on a fishing trip with friends, they stopped at a seafood restaurant to eat. Mr. Saucy, of course, ordered the Fisherman’s Platter (because it was a huge plate piled with fried fish). As he placed his order, he asked for the server to bring him plenty of tartar sauce. When his meal was delivered, there was a small bowl of tartar sauce with it. At that point, one of his buddies said, “Ma’am, you don’t understand. He really likes tartar sauce! That won’t be enough!”
Since we use dill pickle relish in Mr. Saucy’s tartar sauce, and since we use it in potato salad, I decided I would can some Dill Pickle Relish for our pantry. Never having made it before, I pulled out my Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. It’s my go-to reference for starting points for canning. If you’ve never canned before, or if you have and want some great ideas for new recipes, I highly recommend it!
When I said “starting point” what I meant is that I generally modify recipes to suit my own tastes, or needs. For instance, with the Dill Pickle Relish recipe in the book they used sugar. In the South, there are two kinds of pickle relish: Sweet Pickle Relish and Dill Pickle Relish. Dill pickle relish doesn’t contain sugar. So I left it out of my recipe.
Another modification I made was to eliminate the turmeric. Turmeric is used in pickles mainly for a colorant. The bright yellow color helps to compensate for fading of the natural green when canning. That yellow tinge in Bread and Butter Pickles? It comes from turmeric. The reason I didn’t use it is because turmeric is in the ginger family and I am highly allergic to ginger. So, I’ll list it in the ingredients. If you want to use it, do. It is not essential, though.
The only other change I made was to add dill weed, in addition to dill seed, for a very dilly flavor.
If you’re using salad/field cucumbers, I recommend removing the seeds. This is not necessary if you’re using pickling cucumbers, or English cucumbers. Also, a cautionary note: Salad/Field cucumbers sold in the grocery store are waxed and will not work. If you don’t have a garden, or a farmer’s market close, you can use English Cucumbers in this recipe. They are not waxed and they have little to no seeds.
I didn’t wait the two weeks for the relish to fully develop; I have already used some of the relish I canned, in my potato salad, and it was fabulous! If you are overrun with cucumbers, or if you just want to try canning your own relish, I do hope you’ll try this recipe!
p.s.: Interested in other canning projects? Check out my other canning posts here.
- 4 pounds of cucumbers (pickling cucumbers, English cucumbers, or field cucumbers with seeds removed)
- ¼ cup pickling salt
- 2 teaspoons turmeric (optional for color, I did not use)
- 2 cups water
- 1¼ cups minced onion
- 1 tablespoon dill seed
- 2 teaspoons dill weed
- 2 cups distilled white vinegar
- In the bowl of a food processor, working in small batches, finely chop the cucumbers and remove them to a large bowl (stainless steel or glass).
- Once all the cucumbers are chopped, sprinkle with pickling salt (and turmeric, if using).
- Add the water and stir to combine.
- Cover and allow to sit for 2 hours.
- Line a colander with cheesecloth, pour in the cucumbers and allow to drain.
- Rinse the cucumbers with water and allow to drain thoroughly.
- Pick up the corners of the cheesecloth and squeeze out any excess liquid.
- In a large non-reactive pan, add the cucumbers, onion, dill seed, dill weed and vinegar.
- Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
- Prepare your canning pot, jars and lids according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Ladle the hot relish into hot prepared jars, leaving ½ inch of head space.
- Wipe the rim of the jars with a sterilized cloth.
- Place the lid on the jars, add the bands and screw to finger tight.
- Place the jars in the canning pot, making sure the water level is at least an inch above the tops of the jars.
- Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes.
- Remove jars from the canning pot to a towel-lined surface, cool and store.
- The relish is best after allowing two weeks for the flavors to develop.
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