Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Relish

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Since my husband’s heart attack two months ago, I have been busy tuning up recipes to adjust to our new, healthier lifestyle. This means a low-fat and, just as important, a low-salt diet.

Commercially prepared condiments, be they organic or not, are generally loaded with salt. So I have decided to experiment and make my own, beginning this ‘mini-series’ of heart-healthy condiments with a friend’s recipe for sweet pickle relish. (Stay tuned for ketchup and mustard.) This recipe does call for salt, but my ketchup will not and I’m working on my mustard recipe.

Cathy Barrow aka “Mrs.Wheelbarrow” and I met through online cooking contests, twitter and other ‘foodie’ social media sites. I was amazed by the number of creative recipes Cathy posts on her blog and by her detailed posts that include step-by-step photos of whatever project she is working on. We are both into canning and Cathy sets a high bar in terms of both variety and productivity.

I swooned over her great-grandmother’s recipe for sweet pickle relish. Play with the peppers and spices if you want, but this recipe is perfect as it stands. I use English cucumbers and like a blend of red, orange or yellow bell peppers. Red onion works fine too.

I cut the amount of salt in half and it worked well.  Next time I will add the juice of several lemons and further reduce the salt.

As Cathy suggests, blend some relish with mayo or yogurt, add a squeeze of lemon and you will have a terrific tartar sauce.

TIP: use a food processor to chop the vegetables.

Summer 2014 update: I added a handful of fresh chopped dill to the vegetables. Nice flavor tweak –

Yields 6 half-pints

  • 4 cups finely chopped English cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 2 cups red bell pepper, chopped, seeded and white pith removed
  • 2 cups yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped, seeded and white pith removed
  • 2 cups sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon celery seed
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 8 half pint jars, rings and lids

1. Place the chopped vegetables in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt, cover with cold water and set aside for 2 hours.

2. Use a large colander to drain the vegetables and rinse very thoroughly. Use a large spoon to press out as much liquid as possible.

3. Add the jars, rings and lids to a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil to sterilize the jars. I like to boil them 10 minutes at least.

4. Use another large (5 quart) non-reactive pot and add the white and brown sugar,vinegar and spices. Bring to a rolling boil. (A ‘rolling boil’ refers to a boil that cannot be stopped by stirring.)

5. Add the vegetables, stir and reheat to a rolling boil for another 10 minutes.

6. Fill the clean jars with relish and seal with rings and lids, using USDA guidelines. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from bath, set on racks and listen for “pings” to indicate jars have sealed. Another check is to try and push down on each lid. If it does not give, it is sealed.

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14 Responses to Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Relish

  1. Sunchowder -Wendy Read April 21, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    This is a fabulous recipe! I have made this and stocked my pantry–love that you posted this 🙂

    • lizthechef April 21, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

      Thanks, Wendy, it has become a family favorite.

  2. TasteFood April 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    Thanks for the recipe Liz. I was shocked when I looked at the sodium content of most of my go-to condiments. Your revisions will be most welcome!

  3. Elizabeth@ MyCommunalTable April 21, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    Wow. Looks great. I think the hardest things to do is low salt and you are teaching me everyday how to do it better. This a great recipe. Cathy sure is a gift to us foodies. Great to see her spotlighted as well.

    • lizthechef April 21, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

      It sure is a work in progress, this “loso” stuff!

  4. Jayne (@jaynerly) April 21, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    I love this relish! Your post did make me smile as I have one jar left from last summer & it’s label also says “Mrs Wheelbarrows relish”!
    Thank you for the reminders to lower my salt intake, I think of you & Larry now before adding salt!

    • lizthechef April 21, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

      Remember how we laughed about UK versus USA definitions of “relish”?!

  5. current vintage April 22, 2011 at 3:27 am #

    Great Recipe, Liz. Remind me of my grandmothers relish recipe. I have been a canner for many years and love trying new recipes!

    • lizthechef April 22, 2011 at 4:01 am #

      BTW I’m using some of your cherry chutney recipe on our Easter pork tenderloin Sunday for lunch with guests.

  6. Cathy April 26, 2011 at 2:00 am #

    Liz, Thank you so much for the nice shout out. I’m so glad you like the relish! I have only one jar on the shelf and that makes me nervous! C’mon summer. xo

  7. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking April 27, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    I do love a savory relish, and yours looks perfectly delicious Liz! Great flavors. Thanks for sharing. I’m so glad I found your beautiful blog and am going to explore more of your recipes! 🙂

  8. chopinandmysaucepan April 28, 2011 at 5:22 am #

    I have always wanted to include my mum and grandma’s recipes on my blog and you have given me a great idea with the beautiful photos of your family. The black and white ones seems very special 🙂

    • lizthechef May 1, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

      I’m so glad you will be writing about your family recipes! Mine are such a comfort to me!

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