Onion-Free Hot Sweet Relish
A hot-n-sweet relish (for your hot dogs, hamburgers, and so on) that has no onions in it, because I do not like the way that onions taste.
This relish will stay good for several weeks in your refrigerator, but it can also be canned with a boiling-water canning process. This recipe does not provide a full guide to boiling-water canning; I recommend consulting the U.S. National Center For Home Food Preservation's canning resources page.
This recipe contains no common allergens, but it does have mustard and celery (less-common allergens). A substitute for either is outside the scope of this page.
- A food processor
- A knife
- A cutting board
- A big (minimum 5 quarts!) nonreactive bowl (ceramic and glass are both nonreactive)
- A colander/strainer big enough to hold 4 pounds of chopped-up vegetables
- A big stockpot, with lid
- A wooden spoon
- A stove with a vent fan
- Enough glass containers to hold about 6 cups of relish
Optional But Helpful
- Disposable gloves
- An N95 mask
- If you normally wear contacts, wear glasses instead when making this
Equipment You'll Need For Canning
- 3 pounds of cucumbers
- Small ugly cucumbers are perfectly acceptable for this recipe, and are probably cheaper than big pretty cucumbers
- 1 pound of jalapeños
- 1/4 cup kosher salt (any other coarse-ground, additive-free salt is fine too)
- 3 cups vinegar (white vinegar and apple cider vinegar both work fine)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp minced garlic (~6 cloves)
- 4 teaspoons dill
- 1 tbsp mustard seed
- 1 + 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- Optional: a "hot spice" such as cracked red pepper or cayenne pepper
Let’s Make Some Relish
Part 1: Chopping Up Vegetables
- Wash off the cucumbers (scrub with your hands, gently, under running water).
- If the cucumbers have seeds, remove them (chop the cucumbers in half lengthwise, then scoop out the seeds with a spoon).
- Chop up the cucumbers into slices about half an inch thick. Do not worry about being precise.
- Put the cucumbers in your food processor and pulse until they look like they’re about the right consistency for relish.
- Put the cucumbers in your big nonreactive bowl.
- If you have disposable gloves, put those on now, before you handle the jalapeños.
- Wash your jalapeños.
- Remove the stem-ends from your jalapeños, discarding the stem-ends. Chop up the jalapeños themselves into smallish pieces (the size you want in your relish).
- Put the chopped-up jalapeños in the bowl.
- Put the quarter-cup of salt in the bowl.
- Stir until the jalapeños, salt, and cucumber are well-mixed.
- If you are wearing gloves, you can take those off now.
- If you were not wearing gloves, WASH YOUR HANDS, VERY THOROUGHLY, WITH SOAP AND WATER, before you touch your eyes with jalapeño-oil-covered fingers.
- Leave the bowl of cucumbers and jalapeños alone for an hour.
Part 2: Fill Your Kitchen With Noxious Fumes, For Fun
- If you have cheesecloth, line your colander/strainer with cheesecloth.
- Put your colander/strainer in the sink.
- Dump the cucumber+jalapeño out of your big bowl and into the strainer. Run some cold water over the mixture to rinse everything off, then give the strainer a few good shakes to help it drain. Leave your vegetable-filled strainer to drain in the sink for now.
- Turn on your vent fan now, at the highest setting it’s got.
- If you have an N95 mask, put it on now.
- If you have roommates, flatmates, or housemates, warn them that you are about to boil vinegar.
- Open the nearest window. This step is not remotely optional. You will deeply, deeply regret it if you do not open a window.
- Put all the rest of the ingredients (vinegar, sugar, garlic, dill, mustard seed, celery seed, and turmeric) in your stockpot. Stir it up a few times.
- Put the stockpot over high heat, put the lid on, and wait for the vinegar to boil. Every minute or so, take the lid off and stir.
- Note that this creates acidic fumes. When you remove the lid, try to angle it so that the fumes flow towards the vent fan and out of your home. If you lift the lid so that only the part of the pot nearest your face is uncovered, you will get a faceful of vinegar-steam, which is not pleasant.
- Once the vinegar is at a rolling boil, add the cucumber and jalapeño.
- Return the vinegar to a boil, stirring every minute or so.
- Take the lid off the pot, drop the stove down to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes. While the relish is simmering, stir it every minute or so.
- Taste your relish. You can make any or all of the following modifications, after which, turn the heat on low, stir for a minute, and taste it again:
- “Needs to be a little sweeter”: add a quarter-cup of sugar
- “Tastes too much like celery seed” (if you don’t know what celery seed tastes like, put one in your mouth): add a teaspoon of dill
- “Needs to be a little hotter”: add a teaspoon of cayenne, cracked red pepper, or whatever the hottest spice in your spice cabinet is
- If you feel that your relish needs to be a little thicker, simmer uncovered for another 5 minutes, stirring about once a minute. Repeat this step until you no longer feel that the relish needs to be a little thicker.
- If you are canning the relish, then: follow these instructions. Your "process time" is 30 minutes if you live at an elevation under 6000 feet, and 40 minutes above 6000 feet. If you're not sure about your elevation, use the longer processing time.
- If you are not canning the relish, then: put the relish in glass jars now. Remember, don’t put hot things on glass refrigerator shelves - run them under cold water until they feel merely Warm, rather than Hot, before putting them in the fridge.
- Once the fumes have dissipated, you can turn off your vent fan and close the window.
I am not exaggerating the intensity of the vinegar fumes in the slightest. If you breathe them in, they will burn, and it will not be fun for you.
The original recipe called for 3 teaspoons (one tablespoon) of celery seed. That is way too much celery seed. It does need some amount of celery seed, though; celery seed is a pre-industrial preservative and helps the relish stay good in your refrigerator.
This would probably taste good with apple cider vinegar. I used white vinegar because I always use cheap ingredients when I make a recipe the first time. UPDATE: I have made this recipe with apple cider vinegar and it tastes very similar. With the apple cider vinegar, the relish is a tiny bit sweeter and the "biting" flavor of the vinegar is a little more pronounced. Use whichever vinegar you prefer.