July Can Jam: Cucumber Pepper Relish

July 24, 2010(updated on August 21, 2023)

This Cucumber Pepper Relish is an ideal way to preserve the flood of cucumbers and peppers and gardens and CSA shares provide in late summer. It’s an ideal dupe for your favorite hot dog relish.

relish going into the canner

This month’s Can Jam recipe is a direct result of an abundance of green peppers in my CSA share and a hot night at a ball game. I like a nice crunchy green pepper as much as the next girl, but when you come into the possession of ten of them in the course of two weeks, even the hungriest green pepper lover can’t keep up.

hunks of peppers

When I was growing up, my mom often made stuffed green peppers. She’d cook up a combination of ground beef, brown rice, onions and raisins. They’d get baked until everything was bubbly. In the last five minutes of cooking, a slice of muenster cheese would be draped across the top of each pepper half, to help bind it all together. I love these peppers, but they’re sort of heavy for the heat we’ve been having lately (and Scott doesn’t cotton to cooked raisins).

chopped/grated veg in pot

A few weeks ago, we went to a Phillies game. It had been years since I’d been to a live sporting event of any kind, but when Scott got the tickets from work, I was excited to go, mostly because I love a good stadium hot dog. To me, the perfect hot dog is served in a squishy bun and dressed with mustard, sweet relish and chopped onions (preferrably dispensed in bulk from a stainless steel container with a rotary handle that controls the output).

stirring the relish

So, when it came time to make something for this cucurbits challenge, I had sweet pickle relish on the brain and peppers to use. What I did was mash up this Garden Relish recipe (because it used a lot of bell peppers) with the Sweet Pickle Relish in the Ball Book (page 52 of the 2008 edition). I skipped the green tomatoes called for in the Garden Relish, and instead made my main players peppers and kirby cucumbers, with some shredded onion for kick.

bubbling the relish

I made a point of increasing the vinegar a bit since I omitted the one ingredient (green tomatoes) that could have lent some additional acid to the party and added a pinch of red chili flakes to the array of spices, to help balance the sweet and tart flavors. I very much look forward to eating a scoop of this on a hot dog in the very near future. I’m also delighted to have cleared out all those peppers from my fridge. The other nice part of this recipe is that it gave me the opportunity to pull out the shredding disc for my food processor. It made incredibly quick work of the cucumber and onion.

cucumber pepper onion relish
2 from 1 vote

Sweet/Spicy Cucumber Pepper Relish

Servings: 9 half pints


  • 6 cups chopped green pepper
  • 6 cups shredded pickling cucumber
  • 2.5 cups minced/shredded onion
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar divided
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes


  • Combine prepared green pepper, cucumber and onion in a large, non-reactive pot. Stir in two cups of apple cider vinegar and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat for approximately 30 minutes, until the vegetables have cooked down a bit.
  • Drain the vegetables and return to the pot. Add remaining vinegar, sugar and the spices. Bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes. Remove pot from heat.
  • Fill jars, wipe rims, apply lids and tighten bands. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes (starting time when pot returns to a boil).
  • When time is up, remove jars from pot and let cool on a towel-lined countertop. When jars are completely cool, remove the bands and test the seals. The relish is good to eat immediately. Store sealed jars in a cool dark place for up to a year.

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2 from 1 vote

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50 thoughts on "July Can Jam: Cucumber Pepper Relish"

  • Receipe looks and sounds wonderful. Is the receipe correct with 2TBS of mustard seed and 1teasppon of mustard seed or is there another spice missing. Love your blog look forward to reading each post.

    1. Thanks for pointing out that mistake, LaTashia! That was meant to read “celery seed.” I’ve fixed it!

  • A couple of random related comments… 🙂

    My Mom also made stuffed peppers this way, sans raisins and sans muenster (though that sounds terrific). In fact, she and I liked the stuffing so much, sometimes she’d just mix-up a batch of stuffing for lunch and serve it in a bowl.

    I had a bunch of oversize zucchini to use-up last year and made a small batch of the zucchini relish from the ball book. I don’t care for relish very much, but my wife and father do. Turns out, the three jars I made were the most popular gift in my pantry. I’ll definitely be making some more this year once everyone’s had their fill of squash and it gets wicked cheap at the farmstand.

    One of the things I’ve been trying to get right for pepper canning is “Vinegar Peppers,” made commercially (in New England at least) by Pastene. They’re basically big hunks of green bell pepper in an almost straight vinegar solution. They’re crispy, exceedingly tart, addictive in the sadistic way that sour patch kid candy is, and are often found on Italian restaurant Antipasto salads here in Rhode Island. I tried to duplicate it last year but they got soft and just didn’t have quite the right flavor. They also shrunk, leaving my jars to look like I only filled them half-full. If you or any of your fans have a recipe for these or advice on an additive or processing time to keep them crisp, I’d love to hear it.

  • I just bought everything at the farmer’s market today when I realized we had no relish last night! Thanks for the tip on the food processor. I’ll have to get mine out to shred the cucumber.

  • What is that blue thing in the first photo there? Is it a tool specifically for canning? I was at an auction a few days ago and my boyfriend picked up a couple boxes of junk for $2 and there seemed to be a few of those blue things in them.

  • So where in Philly are you getting your Kirby cucumbers? I saw some at Hung Vuong, but they were getting kind of old.

  • Chiara, that blue thing is my jar lifter. It is specifically for canning and is hugely helpful.

    Angela, I got the kirby cucumbers at the Saturday Rittenhouse Square Farmers’ Market.

  • Okay, stupid canning question: in your last picture, it looks like your jars are resting on the bottom of your pot? Is this true? I think I have the same wire rack, and the biggest headache I have is trying to get the jars to stay on the rack and not rest on the bottom of the pot. Am placing my jars incorrectly? I hope this makes sense.

    OH! And this recipe looks amazing. I love relish– I can’t wait to give it a try!

  • Sara, they are on the rack in the pot, it’s just the water distorting the image. When I put jars into the pot, I always scoot them as close to the wall of the pot as possible, to help balance them on the rack.

  • With what looks to be a bountiful harvest of peppers and cucumbers in my garden, I am looking forward very much to trying this recipe. Great Blog!

  • Made this (with a few modifications to up the spice level) and we are loving it. Very tasty. Just want to make sure, though: I dumped out the first two cups of vinegar after the veggies cooked in it for 30 mins.

    That was right, no? I’m a bit concerned about whether or not I had enough acid after having dumped that vinegar out.

    New at this and loving your blog. Thanks for the info.


  • Wonderful! We wanted to slice cucumbers in our processor and ended up shredding them. What to do with shredded cucumber??!! I googled and found your recipe. Buzz, buzz, buzz. Voila! Relish! My daughter cooked up the batch and is going to enter it at the country fair. Thanks!

  • Do you think it would be ok to use lemon cucumbers? Also, why do so many relish recipes call for soaking veggies in salt for several hours first, while yours does not? I”m new to pickling and appreciate all your great recipes!

    1. Missy, I’m very late in replying, but you certainly could use lemon cucumbers. The reason that so many relish recipes have you salt the veggies in salt is that it draws out the liquid and helps them stay crisp. However, the goal of this relish is to have fairly tender veg, so you don’t have to worry about the salting step.

  • I have this simmering on my stove as I type this!! Great way to use up all the cucumbers and peppers from my garden!

  • A note on the lemon cukes. Made it tonight and it tastes great, but is much more watery than the photos above and not a very attractive color. Kind of a pukey color instead of green. Must remember not to plant so many lemon cukes next year!

  • So. Good. I used red and yellow peppers which makes it really pretty. My second batch is bubbling away right now (zucchini this time). I’ve been loving it on ham sandwiches!

  • Just made my first batch – yum! I used half bell peppers and half some kind of long, yellow peppers that are slightly hot (removed the seeds, so might have been hotter). Made delightfully spicy. One question, I ended up with a lot more than 4 half pints; not sure how much more but I’m going to guess double – does this sound right?

  • Made some of this relish today, May 25, 2012. It is delicious, and very easy. Thanks for the recipe, everthing I made it with came fresh out of our garden.

  • any chance this could be made with regular salad cucs?
    and what is the difference between pickling salt and kosher salt? can it substitute?

    1. There is a difference between kosher salt and canning and pickling salt. Canning and pickling salt is pure salt there is no anti clumping agent. In kosher salt there is an anti clumping agent added; yellow prussiate of soda. Most salts have a anti clumping agent added. Some salts will even use sand as the anti clumping agent. I am not sure if you can substitute kosher salt. I have been canning my whole life and we have always used canning and pickling salt (I grew up Mennonite). I would assume you could and the anti clumping agent should not effect the recipe since there is relatively little anti-clumping agent in salt. But I have never tried it.

  • this is seriously good relish. Just a bit sweet, not at all syrupy like other recipes. It’s going to be a regular in my canning repetoire.

  • So glad to have found this site! We have a HUGE garden and I’m always looking for the best, easiest ways to can things as I also have several other jobs. Thanks for this one. Am going to go try it right now!

  • Your relish looks wonderful. I have read other comments, but i need a conformation. I use Morton’s canning and pickling salt. Can i use this instead of the kosher salt?

    1. Yes, you can use your pickling salt in place of kosher. Just reduce the amount you use a little, because pickling salt measures more densely than kosher salt does.

  • I just found your blog and love it. Thank you for sharing! I have two questions. 1. I want to make a pepper relish but do not like sweet relish. Do you have to add thatmuch sugar? Is that a safety aspect or can the sugar be cut back? 2. If I find a dill pickle relish recipe can I substitute peppers for the pickles? Is the acidity the same?

    1. Brenda, you can always safely cut back on sugar. In jams it is necessary for set, but in this relish, it’s only their for the flavor. If you want a less sweet relish, feel free to cut back. As far as swapping peppers for cucumbers, you’d need to do a bit of research and find out if they have similar pH levels before making the switch.

  • Why do you discard the first batch of vinegar? It seems like a waste, and wouldn’t it carry more of the veggies’ flavor with it?

    1. You discard it because the water from the vegetables dilutes it too much for it to be safely used as the canning medium.

  • I’m excited to try this! The jars are in the waterbath now. Seems like it makes 4 pints rather than 4 1/2 pints. I’m not sad about having more but i didn’t have enough jars ready.

    1. That was actually trying to communicate that my yield was 4.5 pints. Not 4 half pints. I will go into the recipe to clarify.

  • 2 stars
    Great taste, but…
    1. If you use some recipe widget that lets you change the recipe scale, please don’t write static text I to the recipe! The “two cups” of Vinegar doesn’t change in the first couple steps, messing things up of you don’t catch it.
    2. I halved the quantity of ingredients and got SIX half pints, whereas the recipe suggests I should get TWO half pints. A half pint is roughly 250mL… Something is seriously wrong with the measures in the recipe. I ended up with 3x more product than I should’ve got according to the recipe (good thing I had loads of spare jars available), although if I’m honest, I think it’s more accurate to what you should get…

    Rating reflects the recipe more than the end product. The end product tasted great.

    1. Okay, I see the issue here with yield. When I transitioned to a different recipe plugin, it displayed the yield information incorrectly. My yield was 4 1/2 pints. Not four half pints. I’ve corrected it so that it reads 9 half pints, which is proper volume. My recipe widget doesn’t allow you to scale the recipe up and down, so I don’t feel like you can fault me there. But I do get where you’re coming from. Sorry you had so many issues.