This dill cucumber relish recipe has been my staple recipe for a few years now. When teeny tiny pickling cucumbers are in season, I buy four pounds, enough for one large batch to water bath can and preserve. It is a requested item from anyone who has had it, because it has just the right amount of tang from the vinegar and sweetness from the sugar to make it mild enough for the typical hot dogs, hamburgers, and sausage, or just mixed with cream cheese and eaten on crackers, a “dip” for French fries and fried potatoes, and tossed in with canned tuna for a quick salad.
I can’t believe I used to hate pickles and relish. I guess I just never really tried it all that often as a kid, so I wasn’t used to the flavor. Now, I cannot get enough of them. Try my classic dill pickle recipe if you are interested in garlic, fresh dill and crisp cucumber pickles.
TIPS ON THE RECIPE
Many dill cucumber relish recipes call for a lot of sugar, and I’m not one for sweet pickles or sweet relish. Certainly that IS a variety that many people enjoy and can also be found at the grocery store, I did not want my relish to be too sweet.
Several recipes use zucchini since it is a little cheaper and is more likely to be available at a grocery store, and may be mixed with green peppers or jalapeños. I have a jalapeno relish recipe already, but I could see adding a few into a batch with cucumbers for an interesting combo of cool cucumber and heat from jalapenos.
Dill weed or dill seed? You could use fresh dill in this recipe instead of dill seed if you like. My dill plants have not been very successful this year, no matter how much I tend to them. You would have to use quite a bit, though, because 1 teaspoon of dill seed equals 1 tablespoon of dill weed, and since this recipe asks for 1 tablespoon of dill seed, you are going to need a lot of fresh dill. The relish would likely have a stronger dill flavor, so you may need to use less.
Dill seed can be purchased at Penzey’s Spices in Indianapolis or other gourmet spice stores near you.
I purchased my pickling cucumbers at the farmers market for $2 a “pint,” which had anywhere between 6 and 10 cucumbers of various sizes inside. I purchased 5, spending $10 total. 1/2 pound of onions resulted in purchased 3 medium to large yellow onions, about $2 total. Dill seed, vinegar, sugar and jars were all on hand. After weighing the cucumbers, I had 4 pounds 5 ounces. Close enough.
Which vinegar should you use? Honestly I have made this recipe with white vinegar, white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar and apple cider vinegar. All were great, but I prefer white wine vinegar. It leaves less of the astringent tang behind. Apple cider vinegar changes the color only slightly. White vinegar is harsher but for those who like that flavor, go for it.
This recipe really is quite simple. Here, a food processor is your best friend.
After washing the cucumbers and cutting off the ends (where anti-pickling bacteria are held), roughly chop the cucumbers and toss them in the food processor, pulsing shortly to achieve a grated feel but so you still have several chunks of cucumber. You don’t want a paste or else you won’t have a nice crunch. This is the consistency I prefer:
Soak the chopped cucumbers in water, turmeric and kosher salt for two hours. Turmeric is used in the Ball Blue Book relish recipes, and when you add it, I must say it brings the umami flavor to relish, along with a little color.
Meanwhile, peel and roughly chop your onions, then throw them in the (cleaned) food processor. Trust me, you do NOT want to hand chop all of these onions! Evenly chop the onions so you don’t have any large pieces that someone may not want to bite into.
Once the two hours has passed, rinse and drain the chopped cucumbers off in batches. Do not press all of the water out of the cucumbers, just drain them well.
Place all of the chopped cucumbers in a large stock pot. Add the chopped onions, sugar, vinegar and dill seed. Bring to a boil, stirring to mix everything together well. Let simmer for at least ten minutes or while you prepare your canning set up.
Pints seem a little large for this recipe. I prefer canning half pints instead, because you have more to give away as gifts. Half pints fit a little nicer in the condiment section of my refrigerator.
Dill Cucumber Relish
Makes About 5 Pints or 10 Half-Pints
- 4 pounds of pickling cucumbers
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 pound yellow onions
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon dill seed
- 2 cups white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or white distilled vinegar
Wash the cucumbers and rough chop them for the food processor. You may have to do this in batches. Cut off the ends where the cucumbers show no seeds and throw away/put in your compost.
Pulse the cucumbers until you get a rough but combined consistency.
Place your chopped cucumbers in a large bowl and add water, sat and turmeric. Mix well and let stand for 2 hours.
Peel your onions and roughly chop, then pulse in the food processor until well combined and no large chunks remain.
After standing for two hours, drain the cucumbers and rinse them under cold water, draining thoroughly (but not squeezing). Combine chopped cucumbers, onions, sugar, dill seed and vinegar in a large sauce pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer ten minutes while you prepare your water bath canning set up.
CANNING: Sterilize your pint jars in boiling water for about ten minutes. Simmer the lids and rims in a separate small saucepan of hot water. Ladle hot relish into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe the lids and rims dry and the ring around the jar dry. Top the jars with the lids and screw the rims on just until fingertip tight. Process the relish in boiling water for ten minutes. Remove and allow to dry before storing. Since my stock pot can only fit five six half pints at a time, I completed this process in two batches.