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Sweet Pickle Relish


Probiotic Pickles

Cucumbers and Pickles

From my garden
From my garden

Every year I plant my garden, anxious for my fruits and veggies. But each year I don’t plant cucumbers because each year they come back anyway. They will sprout in different places in my garden, always in a place where they can have lots of room. It just makes me laugh and excites me. It  is what I call “summer magic.” This year I thought they wouldn’t come. We had an exceptionally hard winter and I started to believe my cucumbers weren’t coming and I started to panic. No pickles! What is a fermenting fanatic to do? But come they did, in a spot they had never sprouted from before. Now in my own reality I like to believe that as I sleep, fairies come at night and plant seeds, so they will grow and become cucumbers. Then I will ferment them and tell the world how to make these life-giving  pickles. That just maybe, this is my destiny and higher calling. So if I find out that everybody’s cucumbers come back every year, I will be slightly disappointed – maybe even crushed. So if you don’t mind, I prefer to stay in my own crazy reality watching with joy as my cucumbers come to me year after year, and I’ll keep coming up with new recipes to fulfill my greater destiny.

Sweet Pickle Relish
Sweet Pickle Relish

I think everyone should ferment, and not can, their vegetables. No big boiling pots of water heating up the kitchen. Just a little chopping and patience and you have one of my favorite foods – fermented pickles!! Pickles that are loaded with vitamin C and good bacteria that can change the world that lives inside of you. So my first recipe each year with my cucumbers is a sweet fermented relish – Sweet Pickled Relish. Man, I just love pickles!

Sweet Pickle Relish
You can also make these into bread and butter chip pickles. Just leave the cucumbers and onions in thin slices instead of chopping and dicing them. These are really good on sandwiches.~Donna
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  • 1/2teaspoon Veggie Starter Culture or 1/4 cup kefir whey
  • 3cups cucumberschopped and diced
  • 1/2cup sliced onionschopped and diced
  • 1/2cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 red pepperchopped and diced
  • 1 1/2teaspoons Celtic Sea Salt
  • 1tablespoon whole celery seeds
  • 1teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
Servings: quart
  1. If using the starter culture, place 1⁄2 cup of water in a glass measuring cup, add the culture, and stir until dissolved. Let the mixture sit while you prepare the vegetables (anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes). If using kefir whey, add it when the recipe calls for culture in step 3.
  2. In large bowl, mix cucumbers with onion and place in one quart-sized, wide-mouthed mason jar, pressing down lightly with a pounder or meat hammer.
    In large bowl, mix cucumbers with onion and place in one quart-sized, wide-mouthed mason jar, pressing down lightly with a pounder or meat hammer.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients (and whey, if using) and pour the liquid over cucumbers, adding more water if necessary to cover.
  4. Keep the top of the liquid one inch below the top of the jar.
  5. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about three days before transferring to the refrigerator.
    Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about three days before transferring to the refrigerator.
  6. These will last at least a year in your fridge.
56 Responses to "Sweet Pickle Relish"
  1. So, I have milk kefir whey, not water kefir. Your recipe and the comments make no mention of which type of whey to use. Thanks!

  2. Hi Donna,
    I’d like to make the homemade ketchup but fish sauce? Do you mean the red cocktail sauce for shrimp?

  3. I have kefir whey left over from my first try at cultured veggies and grapes. Can I use the whey to make a drink or smoothie?

  4. Hi Donna, thanks for the recipe! I was going to try this with my Greek yogurt whey, but reading the comments, I thought I would reconstitute some dried kefir grains I have. Do you have anything already written about this process? Thanks again.

  5. My first attempt at cultured food! I’m liking the recipe but there is way too much celery seed in it for my tastes. How crispy are the pickles supposed to be? Mine are pretty limp.

    • No you can not use whey from raw milk. This does not seem to work to make cultured vegetables. There are different bacteria in raw milk that doesn’t allow to ferment properly.

  6. How does fermenting change the nutritional value of vegetables? What happens to the vitamins and minerals when the item is fermented?

    • Vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains and dairy when subjected to lactic acid fermentation provides increases in both their macro- and micronutrient depending on the strains of bacteria present.

  7. hey Donna;

    Harvested a lot of broccoli leaves yesterday. I juice and saute them but it would be nice to ferment. What to you recommend. Thanks again.

  8. Hey Donna;

    Thanks for another good recipe. I am finishing up a jar of pickles I made in August from your Dill pickle recipes – they were so good. Can i used the juice from those to start another jar?. I do believe “what we give out we get back,” so I hope you and your family are enjoying a bunch of blessing. Thanks for all that you do.

    • Yes, you can use the brine from one to make another batch. Yes, I am very blessed and so much so that sometimes it’s hard to contain the joy I feel each day. Thank you and hugs to you my friend!

  9. Dear Donna – I’ve never, ever had cucumbers grow again on their own. In fact, they always die early from some wilt. Even this year, I tried armenian cukes instead (yes, they are melons, not the regular cuke but they taste like them and are delicious) – same issue. I got about 4 small ones then the wilt started. They blossomed but nothing else happened. I think I care too much!!
    But fortunately I have a growers’ market near buy. Bought a five lb bag of picklers yesterday and made a few jars of garlic dill pickles. Wish I’d seen this recipe – I’d have bought another bag. They look delicious.

    Thanks for sharing.

  10. Have you done this recipe with the airlock system? If so, did you alter it at all? And to clarify….is it a red bell pepper or some other kind of pepper?

  11. Hello – i don’t have the culture starter or kefir whey, can i use the liquid from the store bought yogurt instead or some other culture medium. we are on a small island so difficult to get some of this stuff thanks

  12. Thank you Donna for your book. It’s awesome being able to just pick it up and look for a recipe, especially the sweet pickle relish. My children (the 6 youngest), have finally enjoyed the whole of my two liter jar. They weren’t keen on even trying my cultured veges, but this weekend they had no other choices in the house. But in having the book available I don’t come online everyday. But I am most grateful for your website and book, and most of all you, for sharing. Much blessings to you and your family. Dawn.

  13. I’ve been fermenting veggies of all varieties for a very long time.

    I use whey by either making lebneh or from the cheese I make….I just tasted a batch of cuke relish much like your recipe and it’s really too sour for my taste. Have you ever added Agave syrup to sweeten it at this point and what would that do to the balance for preservation?

    Love your site…thanks so much…

  14. Do you think it would be okay to substitute zucchini instead of cucumbers. My mom cans a yummy sweet zucchini relish and with many large garden zucchinis, I was hoping to make relish, but I want to ferment it, not can it. What do you think? Also, does it turn mushy at all. I read that grape leaves can prevent mushy cucumbers. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  15. I can’t wait to try this recipe,if it works as planned,we are going to try using same recipe for other veggies for my daughter to pack in her lunch. I think using baby carrots,bell peppers and green beans would be well suited for this recipe!

  16. very happy to have found your web site. i make feta from my cows milk, the whey i was using to make bread and feed to the chickens and cat can i use this whey for my cultuered veggs? i have only been using sea salt? i am just starting some kefir grains, i didn’t like it a couple of years ago when i first tryed it , i will do the second ferment this time. thanks

  17. I’m new to cultured foods. Can you give more information on the whey? Is it powdered? I’m having trouble finding kefir grains and I’ve not seen a cultured veggie pack anywhere. What do I ask for at the store? Can whey be used in other cultured veggie recipies? We’ve several great small grocers that are Committed to organics and ‘clean’ food products so should be able to purchase something to use – only product on the shelf in something to make yogurt…. Thanks for your great info.

    • The whey is kefir whey which you get when you make kefir. the powder packages are culture packages which you can buy when you click on the words culture packages. You most likely will not be able to buy them locally except if you live in Kansas city because many stores carry them. Kefir Whey can be used to culture all kinds of cultured veggies. You can get all these cultures on my site under store.

  18. Is the amount for the celtic Sea Salt a typo? Should it be tablespoons or teaspoons? Mine turned out really salty. I could have measured wrong but want to check before I make them again.

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