foodie mcfooderson

a home cook with notions & an appetite

ruth smith’s sweet pickle relish via b’s cucumber page from the ua lunar and planetary laboratory

How’s that for a post title?  I know it seems convoluted, but I found this recipe via a random Google search, so let’s break this down.  The University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory seems to offer personal sites to students and/or staff.  I say “and/or” because bcohen’s top page no longer exists and hasn’t been updated since 2002.  However, the inner pages still exist and despite being part of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, bcohen had a passion for gardening pursuits.  Buried within the cucumber pages is a recipe for cucumber relish attributed to Ruth Smith of Toronto, Ontario.

See, makes complete sense once you break it down.

This is all about continuing to use the cucumber harvest in the garden.  Here are the ingredients:

Relish Base

  • 6 lbs cucumbers
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 4 green bell peppers
  • 2 lbs onions


  • 2 quarts hot water
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt

Canning day ingredients

  • 1 Tbs turmeric
  • 2 Tbs mustard seeds
  • 1 Tbs celery seed
  • 1 quart white vinegar (5%)
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbs cornstarch mixed with 3 Tbs cold water

It’s all about chopping good times on the first day.  I am happy to report that I did get to employ my Cuisinart so this did mean the chop was merely rough.  Of course, the de-seeding of the cucumbers did negate any time-savings that the rough chop was going to employ, but it was what it was.  I will say that I did go up to 3 jalapenos when I made this and I really wish I would have done 4 or 5 in the end, but I do prefer a bit of a bite to things that contain spicy peppers.

I did do the processor in pulses and in about 6 batches to make sure that I didn’t end up with cucumber/pepper mush:

And this is where I realized that I left out an ingredient entirely.  Onions.  Yup.  Completely blanked out on the fact that these were required for the relish.  True fact about me – chopping just about anything in the alum family makes me cry like crazy.  You can go through any of the supposed remedies to stop this from happening and it just doesn’t work.  I briefly considered swim goggles to help the issue, but that would just look silly.

Now that my reason for why I might have deliberately forgot the onions is on the record (and why it isn’t some sort of memory impairment), you know that I went back and followed the same steps for chopping the onions as I did with the cucumbers/peppers.  I also mixed in the brine (hot water and salt are mixed until salt is dissolved) and refrigerated the mixture overnight:

Many photos are missing from the next step.  It is what it is.  Battery packs for digital cameras seem to require regular charging or some such nonsense.  So when you’re charging for five minutes at a time, you end up having to pick and choose what gets photographed (I come from the “take a lot of photos of this and one is bound to look halfway decent” school of digital photography).

So how to drain and rinse finely chopped ingredients for relish that would take 10 rounds in the small mesh strainer and would fall through the holes of the colander big enough to fit everything?  Easy.  Line your colander with the floursack towel (I love these), dump your cucumber mixture in and use the spray nozzle to rinse out the brine.  The floursack towels have a loose enough weave that I even use them to strain stocks, so the brine rinses through just fine.  This photo shows how the mixture is “drained.”  Basically, husband helped out and twisted the mixture into a ball and squeezed out as much water as he could.  It was a fantastic success if you can’t tell from the photo.

All of this liquid comes out because I’ll add new liquid to the mixture.  I transferred the relish mixture to a stockpot and added the vinegar, spices and sugar and cooked everything down until the sugar dissolved and the mixture boiled for a bit.  There was a time I thought the mixture was going to be thick enough, but the mixture was just this side of thin.  After adding the cornstarch/water mixture and cooking for a few minutes, it was exactly what I expected.

While this was going on, I had been boiling five pint jars, lids, rings and my canning equipment so everything would be nice and sterile.

These are filled jars before they get fitted with rings and placed into the water bath for 15 minutes.  All of that made 5 solid pints of sweet pickle relish (with the slightest hint of jalapeno if you think about it really hard!).  Even without the additional spice, this is much, much better than the syrupy stuff you get from the grocery.


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This entry was posted on August 28, 2011 by in garden, preserving and tagged , , , , , .

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