We're heading straight into grilling season, and you know what that means: Jars of condiments that seem to have strange reproductive powers—cluttering up your fridge.
Have you ever thought of making your own? It's healthier, cheaper and you can reduce your carbon footprint using your fresh garden veggies, especially in these easy sweet pickle relish recipes (ok, technically cucumbers are fruits). And oh yeah—these homemade versions taste amazing, too.
You can use any type of cucumber, but pickling cukes are best (sometimes called Kirbies). Don't use any that are on the soft side; they'll make a mushy relish. One recipe is for you canners and preservers and the other can be made pretty much on the fly. While you can use these traditionally, they also go great with homemade veggie burger recipes.
Sweet and Spicy Pickle Relish
8 large unpeeled cucumbers (about 4 cups), diced
2 medium red bell peppers (about 1 1/2 cups), diced
6 ribs celery (about 3 cups), diced
1/4 cup sea salt
2-3 cups organic sugar (adjust for your sweetness preference. Less sweet relish is yummy too!)
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon mustard seed
Finely chop the veggies or pulse in a food processor until uniform in size (don't puree them!). Pour the veggies into a large bowl and add salt. Add enough water to completely cover veggies and let stand for about 5 hours. Drain well. Pressing the mixture to remove all liquid. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil. Continue stirring until all of the sugar has dissolved. Add the veggies and simmer for 10 minutes. Pack into hot, sterilized canning bell jars leaving 1/2 inch head space. Process for 10 minutes in a water bath canner. Makes 4 pints.
Sweet Pickle Relish
2 cups finely chopped pickling cucumber
½ cup onion or celery
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon dill
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup organic sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
Toss cucumbers and onion with 3/4 tsp salt in a sieve set over a bowl and drain 3 hours. Drain off liquid and press cucumber and onion to remove more liquid.
Bring vinegar, sugar and remaining 1/4 tsp salt to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Boil until reduced to about 1/2 cup (3 to 4 minutes). Add cucumber mixture and dill and simmer, stirring another 2 minutes. Mix together cornstarch/water mixture, then add into relish and simmer, stirring for 1 minute. Transfer relish to a bowl and chill, uncovered, until cold, about 1 1/2 hours.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger