This sweet and tangy cucumber relish is made with cucumbers, peppers, onions, sweetened with brown sugar, and flavored with an apple cider vinegar brine infused with pickling spices.
Spoon this chunky relish over burgers and hot dogs. Also enjoy it mixed into a tuna or chicken salad, potato salad, macaroni salads, or egg salad for a bit of crunchy and zesty flavor.
Tips for Making Cucumber Relish
This sweet and tangy relish is a great way to use those odd-shaped and overgrown cucumbers from the garden.
Cucumbers: Pickling cukes are my favorite choice for making relish, but you can use any type of fresh cucumber for this recipe. If your cucumbers are large, you may want to remove the seeds before chopping.
Beware of the waxed cucumbers from the grocery store though. The wax blocks the pickling liquid from penetrating the skin. If you are using waxed cucumbers, go ahead and peel them first. No need to peel fresh cukes from the garden or farm stand.
Peppers: This recipe calls for red and green sweet bell peppers to add color. Feel free to swap out another type of pepper as long as the total amount stays the same. Any variety or colored pepper can be used for this recipe. You can mix orange, red, yellow, and green peppers to add lots of color, or use all green peppers for a traditional green cucumber relish.
Onions: Any type of onion can be used including yellow, white or red.
Vinegar: Use commercial vinegar with at least 5% acidity.
- Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples. It has a fruity tart flavor that blends well with vegetables. The color is amber brown and may darken your pickles slightly, but the flavor is worth it.
- White vinegar is clear vinegar made by distilling corn and rye. It tastes more sour and acidic than apple cider vinegar, but this may be just what you love about pickles. Choose an organic brand to avoid genetically modified corn.
Use a Vegetable Chopper
My new favorite kitchen tool is this newly acquired vegetable chopper. It takes up very little storage space and comes in so handy for making fresh pico de gallo, dicing peppers and onions for the freezer, and for evenly dicing vegetables to make this relish. Simply cut the pieces to fit, apply pressure, and the tool dices the vegetables into 1/4-inch pieces quickly and evenly.
If you don’t have a chopper, you can use a knife, or pulse the vegetables in a food processor. You want uniform chunks, not a purée.
Measuring the Vegetables
Peel, seed, dice or chop your vegetables as described in the recipe before measuring using measuring cups. Dice the vegetables in uniform pieces and add to a measuring cup as you go until you reach the required amounts.
You can also weigh your vegetables using a kitchen scale. I have included both cup and weight measurements in the recipe below.
Allow for Plenty of Time
Making relish is a long process that is completed over a several days. Chopping the vegetables either using a chopper or by hand takes a lot of time.
There are also several steps where you need to combine ingredients and let it sit for a period of time.
First you will soak the chopped vegetables in turmeric-salted ice water for 3 hours, and then you will rinse and soak the vegetables in ice water for 1 hour.
Once you combine the vegetables with pickling brine, you need to let it sit in the refrigerator for 12 hours. Soaking the vegetables helps maintain texture and infuses flavor. Be sure to read the steps in the recipe and plan for extra time.
Steps for Making Cucumber Relish
This is a fresh pack relish that is brined overnight, then drained, covered with pickle seasoned vinegar, and canned in a water bath canner for shelf stable jars.
When canning relish, it is important to use a recipe that has been scientifically tested. This is a tested safe canning recipe from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.
If you are new to canning, it may be helpful to review this article on water bath canning at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.
A more detailed and printable recipe can be found at the bottom of this article, but these are the general steps for making and canning cucumber relish:
Step 1: Gather your kitchen and canning equipment
- Water bath canner and canning rack
- 12 half-pints, or 6 pint sized canning jars
- Canning lids and bands (new lids for each jar, bands can be reused)
- Canning tools: jar lifter, canning ladle, funnel, and bubble popper
- Plus basic kitchen supplies such as an 8-quart or larger saucepot, 8-quart or larger prep bowl, kitchen towels, knife, and a cutting board.
Step 2: Prepare the vegetables
Rinse the vegetables well under running water. Trim and dice into even sized pieces. Measure or weigh the ingredients and add to a large bowl.
Add the turmeric, pickling salt, and cover the vegetables with ice water. Stir to combine and place the bowl in the refrigerator for 3 hours.
After 3 hours, drain the vegetables, cover again with 2 quarts of ice water, and let sit for another 1 hour in the fridge.
Step 3: Make the pickling brine
Add the spices a spice bag, or coffee filter and tie off.
In a large saucepan, combine vinegar, brown sugar, and the pickling spice bag. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat. Fish out and discard the spice bag.
Drain the vegetables in a large colander. Add the drained vegetables to the pickling brine saucepan, stir and let sit in the refrigerator 12 hours.
Step 4: Prepare the canning equipment
When you are ready to can the relish, wash your jars, lids, bands, and canning tools in warm, soapy water. Rinse well, and set the lids, bands, and tools aside to air dry until you are ready to use them.
Setup your water bath canner with the canning rack on a large burner of your stove. Place the jars upright in the canner, and add water to cover. Bring the canner to a simmer (180˚F) for 10 minutes, and keep the jars hot until you are ready to fill them.
Step 5: Can the relish
Remove the pot of relish from the fridge, place it on the stove, and bring to a simmer (180˚F) over medium-high heat.
Use the jar lifter to remove a hot jar from the canner, drain, and place on a kitchen towel. Keep the remaining jars in the canner, so they stay warm.
Place the canning funnel on the jar, and add the warm relish to the jar, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Run the bubble popper through the jar to release any trapped air bubbles. Make sure all the vegetables are submerged under the brine. Remove any that stick out, and adjust the headspace again if needed.
Wipe the rim with a damp towel to remove residue. Center a lid on the jar, place the band over the lid, and screw it on until fingertip tight. Place the jar back into the canner, and repeat with the rest of the jars.
Adjust the water level so it is covering the jars by two inches, bring the pot to a boil, and process the jars for the times indicated in the recipe below.
Let the jars cool, test the seals, label and date the jars, and store the canned relish in a cool, dark location. Let the stand for about 4 weeks to develop flavor.
Sweet Cucumber Relish Canning Recipe
- 8 cups diced cucumbers (about 8 medium, 3 pounds measured after prep)
- 2 cups diced green bell peppers (about 4 small, 12 ounces measured after prep)
- 2 cups diced red bell peppers (about 4 small, 12 ounces measured after prep)
- 1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium, 6 ounces measured after prep)
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1/2 cup pickling salt
- 4 quarts ice water (divided for soaking)
Prepare the vegetables:
- Rinse the cucumbers under running water to remove dust and soil. Run your fingers along the fruit to remove the spines. Cut 1/4-inch slices off the ends, and dice into pieces. Measure 8 cups and place in a large bowl.
- Wash the peppers and remove the stems, seeds, and membrane. Dice into pieces. Measure 2 cups of each of the green and red peppers and add to the large bowl.
- Peel the onion and dice into pieces. Measure 1 cup and add to the large bowl.
- Stir to combine the vegetables in the large bowl.
- Sprinkle the turmeric and pickling salt over the vegetables. Cover with 2 quarts of ice water. Stir well to combine, place in the refrigerator, and let it sit for 3 hours.
- After 3 hours, drain the vegetables, and cover with 2 quarts of ice water. Let this sit for another 1 hour in the fridge.
Make the pickling brine:
- Add the cinnamon, mustard seed, allspice, and cloves to a spice bag, or coffee filter and tie off.
- In a large saucepan, combine the apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and the pickling spice bag. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat. Discard the spice bag.
- Drain the vegetables in a large colander. Add the drained vegetables to the pickling brine saucepan. Mix to combine. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator 12 hours.
Prepare the canning equipment:
- When you are ready to can the relish, wash your jars, lids, screw bands, and canning tools in hot soapy water. Rinse thoroughly to remove all suds. Set aside to air dry on a clean kitchen towel.
- Place the jar rack into water bath canner, place jars in the canner, and add water to cover. Bring the canner to a simmer (180˚F) for 10 minutes, and keep the jars hot.
Can the relish:
- Place the relish pot on the stove and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer (180˚F) and heat until the vegetables are evenly hot. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
- Spread a kitchen towel on the counter. Use your jar lifter to remove a warm jar from canner. Drain and place on the towel. Keep the remaining jars in the canner, so they stay warm.
- Use your canning funnel and ladle to fill the jar with the relish leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
- Run the bubble popper through the jars to release air bubbles and wipe the rims. Center lid on the jar, and screw on band until it is fingertip tight. Use the jar lifter to place the jar back into the canner, and repeat with the remaining jars.
- Once all the jars are in canner, adjust the water level so it is 2 inches above the jar tops.
- Cover the canner and bring to boil over high heat. Once water boils vigorously, continue boiling and process the relish for 10 minutes at altitudes of less than 1,000 feet. Adjust processing time for your altitude if necessary (See Note).
- When processing time is complete, turn off heat, remove the cover, and allow the canner to cool down and settle for about 5 minutes.
- Spread a dry kitchen towel on the counter. Remove the cover by tilting lid away from you so that steam does not burn your face.
- Use the jar lifter to remove the jars from canner and place on the towel. Keep the jars upright, and don't tighten bands or check the seals yet. Let the jars sit undisturbed for 12 to 24-hours to cool.
- After 12 to 24-hours, check to be sure jar lids have sealed by pushing on the center of the lid. The lid should not pop up. If the lid flexes up and down, it did not seal. Refrigerate jar and use up within a week.
- Remove the screw on bands and rinse the jars. Label, date, and store in a cool, dark location. Allow 4 to 5 weeks for the relish to develop flavor. Use home canned jars within 12 to 18 months for the best quality. Makes about 12 half-pints, or 6 pint sized jars of cucumber relish.
You May Also Like:
- Kosher-Dill Pickles Canning Recipe
- Zucchini Relish Canning Recipe
- Sweet Bread and Butter Pickles
- Other Ways to Preserve the Harvest
Good planning is key to a successful vegetable garden
Whether you are new to growing your own food or have been growing a vegetable garden for years, you will benefit from some planning each year. You will find everything you need to organize and plan your vegetable garden in my PDF eBook, Grow a Good Life Guide to Planning Your Vegetable Garden.