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Pioneer Cooking: Relish Recipes

The relishes we know today are primarily made from a base of cucumbers or pickles. Not so during the pioneer and colonial eras of cooking ... even earlier times. Relishes were condiments and side dishes eaten to liven up wild foods and over cooked staples such as potatoes.

Below are some recipes for relishes that you might care to try to show the variety of ways that women in early times tried to extend and liven up their cooking. While canning directions are given, you can store surplus in the refrigerator or freezer in airtight containers, or give away to friends and family.

Blueberry Relish

2 quarts blueberries, washed and stemmed
4 c. sugar
1 c. cider vinegar
1 t. cinnamon
t. allspice
t. ginger


Wash and sterilize 6 half-pint jars and closures. Place berries in a large enamel or stainless steel saucepan and crush a few with a potatoes masher. Cover and simmer, stirring now and then, until berries are soft. Mix in remaining ingredients, insert a candy thermometer, and boil slowly, stirring now and then, until thermometer measures 218 F. Ladle into jars, filling to withing 1/8" of tops. Wipe rims and seal. Cool, check seals, label, and store in a cool, dark, dry place 3 to 4 weeks before serving.

Corn Relish

2 qut. cut corn (about 18 ears)
1 small head cabbage, chopped
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped sweet green peppers
1 c. chopped sweet red peppers
1 to 2 c. sugar
2 T. dry mustard
1 T. celery seed
1 T. mustard seed
1 T. salt
1 T. turmeric
1 qt. vinegar
1 c. water

Boil corn five minutes, cut from cob. Combine with remaining ingredients in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Pack hot into hot jars, leaving quarter inch headspace. Adjust caps. Process 15 minutes in boiling water bath. Yield: about 6 pints.

Cucumber Relish

2 qts. chopped cucumbers
2 c. chopped sweet green peppers>
2 c. chopped sweet red peppers 1 c. chopped onions c. salt 2 qts. cold water 1 c. brown sugar 2 sticks cinnamon 1 T. mustard seed 1 T. turmeric 2 t. whole allspice 2 t. whole cloves 1 qt. vinegar

Combine cucumbers, peppers and onion, sprinkle with turmeric. Dissolve salt in 2 quarts cold water and pour over vegetables; let stand 3 to 4 hours. Drain; cover vegetables with cold water and let stand one hour. Drain thoroughly. Tie spices in a cheesecloth bag; add to sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil and pour over vegetables. Coverand let stand 12 to 18 hours in a cool place. Bring vegetables to a boil; simmer until hot. Pack hot into hot jars, leaving quarter inch headspace. Adjust caps. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Yield: about 6 pints.

Huckleberry Relish

2 quarts huckleberries, washed and stemmed 4 c. sugar 1 c. cider vinegar 1 t. cinnamon t. allspice t. ginger

Wash and sterilize 6 half-pint jars and closures. Place berries in a large enamel or stainless steel saucepan and crush a few with a potatoes masher. Cover and simmer, stirring now and then, until berries are soft. Mix in remaining ingredients, insert a candy thermometer, and boil slowly, stirring now and then, until thermometer measures 218 F. Ladle into jars, filling to withing 1/8" of tops. Wipe rims and seal. Cool, check seals, label, and store in a cool, dark, dry place 3 to 4 weeks before serving.

Pear Relish

10 lbs. pears, peeled, cored and chopped 6 c. chopped onions 6 c. chopped sweet red peppers 6 c. chopped sweet green peppers 1 bunch celery, chopped 3 c. sugar 1 T. allspice 1 T. salt 5 c. vinegar

Combine all ingredients and let stand overnight. Bring mixture to a boil. Pack into hot jars, leaving quarter inch headspace. Adjust caps. Process 20 minutes in boiling water bath. Yield: about 9 pints.

Beet Relish

1 quart chopped, cooked beets 1 quart chopped cabbage 1 c. chopped onions 1 c. chopped sweet red peppers 1 c. sugar 1 T. horseradish 1 T. salt 3 c. vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepot. Simmer 10 minutes. Bring to a boil. Pack hot into hot jars, leaving " headspace. Adjust caps. Process 15 minutes in boiling water bath. Yield: about 10 half-Pints.

Beet - Apple Relish

6 c. cooked, peeled beets, cut up 1 c. sugar 6 lg. apples, peeled, cored & quartered 1 c. vinegar 2 lg. onions, cut up c. water 4" stick cinnamon, broken 1 T. salt

Using food grinder with coarse blade, grind beets, apples, and onions. In large kettle combine ground mixture, sugar, vinegar, wtaer, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to boil. Cover, simmer 20 mintues, stirring often. Remove cinnamon. Ladle hot relish in to hot sterilized half-pint jars; leave headspace. Seal and process 15 minutes. Yield: 11 half-pints.

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