Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Million Dollar Sweet Pickle Relish

An heirloom recipe, Million Dollar Relish is a sweet pickle relish made from cucumbers, onion and sweet red and green bell peppers.

Million Dollar Relish

A couple of years back, Mary Fonville, a reader from our Facebook page, shared her personal recipe for Million Dollar Relish, an heirloom recipe for a sweet pickle relish that she's been personally making for more than 40 years.

I'm not sure of the history of this recipe, where the name comes from, or really, what sets Million Dollar Relish apart from any other regular sweet pickle relish, except that many of the Million Dollar recipes are extremely heavy on turmeric. Some cover the vegetable mixture with iced water to soak, some hot water, some, no water at all. Some recipes add carrots and some are also very heavy in sweet peppers. I guess like anything else, there are as many recipes for this relish as there are cooks.

A lot of folks run the vegetables through a food processor or meat grinder for relish, but I like more of a cubed style pickle relish and wanted more texture in mine, so I hand chop instead of grinding them.

I'm a big fan of hot dogs, always have been, always will be, and sweet pickle relish is a pretty standard condiment for me. Besides the classic hot dog, use this relish in potato salad, ham, tuna and chicken salads, on burgers or sandwiches, wherever you happen to like pickles. It's delicious!

As always, with all canning recipes that you find here on my site, I have to add my caveat. Before proceeding with any recipe for canning or preserving on Deep South Dish, I advise you to always consult a professional canning resource for complete details on how to safely can foods, from start to finish, to make them pantry stable.

Here's how to make it.

First things first, you need to peel and seed the cucumbers before chopping them. I just use regular, garden variety cucumbers. You need 2 quarts diced.

Use a spoon to scoop out all of the seeds.

In a large glass or plastic bowl, mix together the chopped cucumbers, onion and peppers. Toss to mix well, add 2 tablespoons of salt - I just used kosher salt - then stir, cover and refrigerate; let stand at least 6 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally, if possible. Drain well, stirring occasionally to release as much liquid as possible, but do not rinse.

In a large pot, mix together the vinegar (white or cider), sugar, garlic, mustard seed, celery seed, and turmeric. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly until sugar is dissolved. Add in the drained vegetables and red pepper flakes, if using, return to a boil, reduce to medium and simmer for 30 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer relish into sterilized jars and top off with syrup. Seal, refrigerate, or process for canning.

Recipe: Million Dollar Sweet Pickle Relish

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 6 half pints


For the Relish:
  • 8 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced (about 2 quarts diced)
  • 2 cups of chopped onion
  • 3 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 3 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 large can of pimento, drained and chopped, optional
  • 2 tablespoons of kosher salt
For the Syrup:
  • 1 quart of white or cider vinegar
  • 4 cups of granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of finely minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of mustard seed
  • 2 tablespoons of celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, or to taste, optional

In a large glass or plastic bowl, mix together the cucumbers, onion and peppers; toss to mix well. Add salt, stir, cover and refrigerate; let stand 6 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally. Drain well, but do not rinse.

In a large pot, mix together the vinegar, sugar, garlic, mustard seed, celery seed, and turmeric. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly until sugar is dissolved. Add in the drained vegetables and red pepper flakes, if using, return to a boil, reduce to medium and simmer for 30 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer relish into sterilized jars and top off with syrup. Seal, refrigerate, or process for canning.

To Process for Canning: Sterilize jar and lids. Prepare a hot water bath. Pack hot pickles and liquid into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Add Pickle Crisp to each jar if desired. Remove air bubbles. Add lids and rings and process for 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Cook's Notes: I am not a professional canning expert. Please consult a professional canning resource for details on water bath canning before attempting to home can.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on August 28, 2013
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  1. Made this this weekend. Delish! I had a canning spree this weekend Grape Juice, Salsa, Italian tomatoes and relish. Thank you for the recipe.

    1. You're very welcome & what a bounty!! Wish I was close by - I'd have to come and swipe some of that!

  2. Have you tried this with Splenda? I found a recipe for sugar free corn relish using Splenda, but I lost the book during a move. Just wondering. Thaniks

  3. Does it not need to be thickened?

    1. No. What you see in the photos above are made exactly according to the recipe and contains no thickening agent. Now remember, I am only a home cook & no canning expert!! In the past, folks used to thicken relishes with flour or cornstarch, and while commercial operations still use a food starch in their canning processes it's much different than home canning. Thickening with flour/cornstarch is not recommended for home canning because of the uneven heat penetration which may cause spoiling. For this recipe the simmering causes evaporation, which reduces and thickens the relish.

  4. I made this recipe today. In fact, I doubled this recipe because I had so many cucumbers to use. According to what was said here on this blog page, I was expecting each batch of the recipe to make 6 pints of finished relish. I am VERY disappointed. This was a total waste of a day-- hours of hand chopping ingredients... and 8 cups of sugar. This recipe when DOUBLED... made 3 quart jars of relish. According to what I was led to believe, I should have had twice as much relish. The relish tastes okay, but is overly sweet. This is my second and final time to attempt making homemade relish. So not worth all the time and effort used to end up with three jars of relish. Next time, I'll go to the store for relish instead.

    1. Oh my gosh, I'm so very sorry to hear you were disappointed in the relish. I only hope that when you crack open a jar later on you really enjoy it, because this recipe is my all time favorite relish!!

      You are right though. Canning, and in particular, canning a pickle relish takes a bit of work because of all of the chopping involved. It is certainly much easier to pick up a jar at the grocery store without all of the work. Still, there's a certain amount of joy when you crack open a jar you canned yourself and frankly I think it tastes so much better.

      I wonder why you doubled the recipe and also why you wanted to can a relish in quart jars? Typically pint or half pint jars are used for a pickle relish in my experience, but the biggest concern is doubling a canning recipe very often will not work. I am no expert, but I have read that rather than double you should do two batches to keep the ratios in check. I'm not surprised that came out overly sweet, but hopefully the sweetness will settle.

      Yields for a relish are always estimates because it depends on the size of your pickles and peppers and also how you dice them, and I really wish you had canned this in pints or half pints, but again when you open a quart on down the line I hope that you enjoy it much more than it sounds today.

  5. I also note above that she read your recipe to sway 6 pints when in fact, it said 6 half-pints- big difference. And yes, you are right- I taught food preservation for 12 years- when doubling a recipe you do not double all the flavorings- you were right to say one batch at a time!! Byt the way- your recipe is by far my favorite

    1. Thanks Geralynne! This version of Million Dollar Relish was shared by one of our Deep South Dish family here and it's become my favorite too - I am always sad when I crack open the last jar!

  6. This is the best thing I have ever made. Period. Will definitely be makong more in next few days. One batch is not enough to share.Thanks so much for recipe, it's a keeper.

  7. This is the best thing I have ever made period. I will definitely be making more in next few days as one batch does not make enough for sharing. Thanks so much for recipe all the way from New Zealand.

    1. Thanks Rebecca! Yes, it's a fairly small batch but you can certainly do a couple of batches for sure. Just don't double them. So glad that you enjoyed it!!

  8. Linda Stone
    just found this recipr.I have made relish before,but I used up excess zucinni could I use them instead of cucumbers?

    1. Hi Linda! I'm not much of a canner, so I don't really have any expertise in the subject. This recipe is written for cucumbers, so I don't know what you would need to do to change or adjust for zucchini, so sorry!

  9. I made this relish last year for the first time and I love it. After a great harvest from my garden, I am plan to show my sisters how do homemade sweet relish using your recipe. Thank you for sharing from Naomi-Nicole in North Mississippi.

    1. You're welcome Naomi-Nicole! I love this relish - thanks for letting me know you do too & that you're passing it on to your sisters. That means a lot to me!!!

  10. If you refrigerate this relish ... How long will it last in there? And can you leave the cukes and onions ( I ran out of peppers and have to go to the store tomorrow to get them)in th fridge for longer than 6 hours ?

    1. I've never done that so I really can't say for sure, but so long as you got back to it fairly quickly, it'd probably be okay. I'd add the peppers and give it time to marinate for another 6 hours and proceed with the recipe, simmering them as above.

    2. Oh, and how long un-processed (refrigerator) pickles will last is uncertain. Since they aren't sealed by the hot water bath process, they are basically unopened pickles. I would contact your local county extension office for a more certain answer due to safety concerns, but if it were me, I'd try to use them all up within a few months at the most. I've always processed these to make them shelf stable and they store in the pantry for much longer.

  11. Having an over abundance of cukes this year I was looking for different ways to use them up. I've already done 2 batches of a chopped relish that my family loves but didn't want to do any more. Some one had told me about Thousand Island pickle relish, but wasn't willing to share their recipe. So off to Pintrest and Google I went and found a few. Then I stumbled across your recipe which was very similar to the others I had found only it had different name. I liked yours so I'm going to give yours a try this weekend.
    PS the best thing I ever bought was the grinding attachment for my KitchenAid mixer. It grids the cukes, onions and peppers up perfectly!

  12. Ok your recipe would be a German one. Our family has one similar and it would be over century or more old. Ours id for pickles but your relish is very close to it. Maybe only with extras that you would see in a relish.

    1. I don't know, but that certainly is possible! I know that's it's been around the south for at least 50 years that I am aware of, and perhaps even longer, but very well may have made its way to the south via German immigrants! There are quite a few around the coastal areas.

  13. I found your/this blog and recipe about two seasons ago. Started yesterday 9/9/18 around 10am.. it's 3am after a 6hr nap... just drained and dripping,hope to process tonight after work!!
    I already know that we'll love this relish!!

    This is my fifth year of veggie gardening&preserving. My other relish didn't have garlic or turmeric which are some faves of my Mrs&I..

    Thank you and thank you to Mrs. Fonville

    Blessed eats to all! dannydan ;)


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