a pickle for the end of summer: onion and cucumber relish

end of summer relish
I am in jam and pickling mode at the moment. I am not exactly in a frenzy (not a good idea when surrounded by sharp knives and hot syrup), but I am trying to preserve the moment and the end of season's treasures - so that we can enjoy a taste of the summer throughout even the darkest (and, most likely in the UK, the wettest) winter months.

I have a weakness for those pickles and relishes that go beautifully with burgers and can turn the average cheese sandwich into something rather sublime. This is a rather forgiving recipe; while it was largely comprised of onions and cucumber, I was also able to squeeze in some tomatoes, a stick of celery and some pickled peppers!

Skill level: Easy
Makes about 3 medium sized jars (300ml)

olive oil
4 x red or yellow onions, (or a mixture of both), finely chopped
4 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 kg x mixture of vegetables, prepared (I used cucumber, tomatoes, celery and red and yellow peppers)
125ml cider vinegar
150g granulated sugar
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp dried mustard powder
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp smoked paprika (optional)


  1. In a large non-reactive (stainless steel) saucepan, gently fry the onions in a very little oil, slowly on a low heat until they have begun to soften and caramelise. This will take about 30 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and continue to fry for 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the vinegar and ensure that all of the onion and garlic has been scraped off the bottom of the pan.
  3. Prepare the tomatoes, by de-seeding and chopping. De-seed the cucumbers and chop, All the chopped vegetables need to be roughly the same size.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened and the relish has reduced and thickened.
  5. Set aside to cool before potting in sterilised jars.
  6. The relish will be ready to eat in about 2 weeks (although will still be quite sharp). It is much better after 2 to 3 months.
  7. It will keep opened in the fridge for about 1 month.

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