Corn Relish – Respectin’ The Old Ways


In trying to decide what to post today I asked for votes on the Southern Plate Family Page on Facebook between Corn Relish and Unfried Fried Ice Cream. I honestly expected the ice cream to win out but am heartened by the healthy respect of corn relish nowadays. There were about 95 votes and it seemed to be pretty equally divided. I could have counted but I have a firm policy against using math unless absolutely necessary and yes, counting counts.

So I did the only diplomatic thing I could do, I let Mama decide!

Corn Relish – Respectin’ The Old Ways

I love to can, even though it may be considered antiquated and unnecessary by some. I can’t help but think about the old days, how efficient houses were ran back then, out of necessity. Women would tend to their gardens all summer long not as a hobby, but knowing that how that garden fared would determine how her family fared over the winter months. Eating fresh vegetables during the summer with a constant eye on canning, dehydrating, and various other methods of “putting up” food for the winter. How much a woman canned really made all the difference in whether or not her family went hungry. With that in mind, its hard not to have a reverence and appreciation for canning today.

Relish was an easy way to save vegetables and the combinations were limitless. This corn relish is a little similar to a relish called “End Of The Garden Relish” where you pretty much took everything that was left in the garden and combined it together. I customized this recipe for my own tastes and you can do that, too. Just know that as you add or take away you will end up with more or less in terms of quantity to can.

I had to hunt all over to track down enough jars to can this. I was talking to my mother about how many canning jars I’ve bought over the past few years and how I still ended up not having enough and we got to talking about what a waste it is that folks throw away canning jars nowadays when they are done using the contents. Canning jars can be good for generations as long as they don’t have any chips or cracks on them or around the rim. You just buy new lids each year and you’re good to go!

I give away a lot of my canned items, though, so it makes sense that my jar collection would have to be constantly replenished. Mama says back in the old days whenever someone gave you a gift of something they had canned, it was customary to give them something you had canned as well, and in doing so you had traded one of your jars for one of theirs. Smart folks back then!

Now for those of you who say “I wish I could can” I want you to know that you ABSOLUTELY can! Canning is simple as can be, so don’t be intimidated by it. Folks have been doing it for countless generations and there is absolutely no reason why you can’t, too. You don’t even need any special equipment, other than the jars and lids. I don’t even own a canner, I just use a big old pot lined with a dish towel to keep my jars from clinking together while they are boiling. I did a full tutorial on this a year or so ago with step by step photos and even a little video to start it out so click here to go visit that and can away!

Once you are done canning, be sure you check out these brilliant canning labels that you just print out and place in the lids. No more sticky residue to remove and no more wondering what is in the jar! They even have a back side where you can print the date it was canned and request that they return or reuse the jar. My post includes the template for you to download and use in Microsoft Word.

Corn Relish – Respectin’ The Old Ways

To make this recipe exactly as I am, you’ll need: Bell Peppers, tomatoes, vidalia onions, vinegar, and frozen corn.

Of course you can use fresh corn but I gotta tell ya, if I’m going to go to the trouble of shucking and preparing fresh corn, I’m gonna eat every last bite of it fried. I recently put up eighty ears of corn and ended up with enough for about five meals. Thats a lot of work for just a few meals! Fresh corn is a precious thing and since we’re canning this you won’t be able to tell much difference so lets keep it easy, alrighty?


For your tomatoes, they don’t have to be ripe, but if they are that is alright. You can even use green ones if you like. Vinegar is essential. That is what is going to give us the acid we need to preserve all of this.

But wait, we’re not done yet..

You’re gonna need some spices. I am using Ground Turmeric, Ground Mustard, and Celery Seed.

You’re also going to need a little bit of Sugar and Salt.

Just plain old table salt is fine. Salt adds flavor and also serves as a preservative.

Corn Relish – Respectin’ The Old Ways

Chop up your onion, tomatoes, and bell peppers. Put all of that in a pot with your corn.

Now you’re gonna need a R-E-A-L-L-Y big pot! This is the pot I’m gonna use to boil my jars in later, too. It’s massive. I got it pretty cheap several years ago at TJ Maxx or Marshall’s or one of those stores.

Corn Relish – Respectin’ The Old Ways

Add your vinegar

Corn Relish – Respectin’ The Old Ways

And your sugar

Corn Relish – Respectin’ The Old Ways

and your salt. I know you are thinking this is a lot of salt but keep the amount of vegetables in perspective and it really isn’t. You do need the salt, honest. It won’t taste salty when you are done.

Corn Relish – Respectin’ The Old Ways

Add your turmeric

Corn Relish – Respectin’ The Old Ways

Celery Seed

and ground mustard

Stir that up as best you can. You’re going to bring it to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often, then reduce the heat to medium and keep stirring every now and then, for about thirty minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.You are going to think “wow, this is not nearly enough liquid” but as your vegetables start cooking up it will generate a whole lot more.

Corn Relish – Respectin’ The Old Ways

Here it is stirred up after it has cooked for a little bit.

and while we’re waiting on that to cook, do you subscribe to Southern Plate?

Click here to subscribe and receive an email from me each time I post something new.

No one will ever see or have access to your email address but me.

It’ll look like this. If you try to take a photo of it it will steam up your camera lens.

Corn Relish – Respectin’ The Old Ways

Isn’t that beautiful?

Corn Relish – Respectin’ The Old Ways

Can according to directions found here.

Enjoy your garden all year long!

Corn Relish
  • 3- 32 ounce packages frozen whole kernel Corn
  • 4 Cups chopped Bell Peppers (can be any color but green is pretty)
  • 2 Cups chopped Vidalia onions (about two large)
  • 4 Cups chopped red tomatoes (can use green if that is what you have)
  • 5 Cups Vinegar
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • ¼ Cup Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Turmeric
  • 1 Tablespoon Celery Seed
  • ½ Tablespoon Ground Mustard (not bottled mustard, but dry)
  1. Combine all vegetables in a large pot. Add vinegar, sugar, salt, turmeric, celery seed, and mustard. Heat to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, stirring every now and then to ensure even cooking.
  2. Seal in hot, sterilized canning jars according to directions that can be found on my canning tutorial (the link to visit that post is directly below this recipe card). Try to get an equal amount of liquid in each jar. You need a good bit of liquid to cover the vegetables but you strain that out when you serve it. Process for 10 minutes in boiling water for pint size, and five for half pints. Yields 12 Pints
  3. *I prefer to can things in ½ pint jars so I can have more to give away, which is why I never seem to have half pint jars! :)

**Visit my canning tutorial for instructions on how to can this! Click


Kolene submitted this to the quote page yesterday and I just loved it. Be sure to send it to someone you care about today, I bet they could use a hug in their email!


Put your left hand over your right shoulder and

your right hand over your left shoulder!

That was a quick hug from me!

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  1. Jennifer says

    I found your site last week after reading the article in Southern Living. I was drawn to your down-home attitude and I loved the recipes in the magazine. Checked out your site on Sunday morning and by lunch time I was making the corn relish. It was so easy and pretty. I am really just now getting into canning and this recipe is definitely a keeper. I love the colors and I had to sneak and go ahead and open a jar, it is delicious and I’m sure will be even better after it sits a while. Thanks for all you do. I’ve asked for your cookbook for Christmas, so hope to be making many more of your recipes.

  2. Clairee says

    This sounds very good, and I’m going to make some. However, could you tell me how you use it…. do you use it as a side dish, or a condiment?
    My DH is not much for condiments, or pickles, etc. but if I could pass this off as a side dish, I think he’d like it. I can tell I’ll LOVE it!
    Love your site, Christy – just found it today. I’m also goning to order your book – by Tuesday, so maybe you’ll make the Best Seller list!

  3. Nessa says

    I just have to say this looks yummy! When I was a kid my mom used to make this all the time. I just love and appreciate how well constructed your site is and how very easy it is to follow. Great job!!

    • Sylvia Ternullo says

      Southern cooking is the best and I recently bought your cookbook,
      ‘Southern Plate.’ I plan on trying many of your recipies. BTW, do you
      have a really easy, good, recipe for rice pudding? I can’t find one.
      Thanks Christy.

  4. Donetta says

    Hi, tried this recipe while I was visiting with my sister in Wv after she had a minor surgery. We needed something to do, so this was the “to do” we wanted. I can say that the recipe is delicious but it is sour! or tart! whichever way you want to describe it. I was wondering if maybe more sugar can be added to cut the tartness and how much more could be added. I do not want to ruin a good thing but it is a bit more than I can take. I have had chow chow and I have a wonderful recipe for green tomato relish and neither of them are tart like this. Thanks for any help with this. I want to try it again soon. I used frozen corn since we did not have fresh.

  5. Jackie Schwalm says

    For the last few years my sons and I have been trying to grow most of our own vegetables. Some vegies have been less prolific then we expected, but we have an abundace of corn. Yeah! I will be making this today with the corn I froze last fall. I love your site!

  6. Liz Johnson says

    Can I add canned black beans to this to make a salsa?? I was thinking of adding chipolte to it as well…I have never canned beans before…or corn for that matter – will it can okay?

  7. Marian in Mississippi says

    My husband will love me and you if I make this for him…which I plan on doing later this week…Thanks for sharing!! Thanks for just being YOU!!

  8. Linda Watters says

    I was wondering about the 5 cups of vinegar. I like a touch of it with the Splenda I put in coleslaw or tomato cucumber salad, but was wondering if this would be really sour. Please help me here. Thanks, Christy.


  9. Dawn says

    I to love to can things from my garden, hate to see things go to waste that much like my granmomma I guess. so far in the pantry are green beans strawberry preserves plum jam (thanks to my dear friend Susan) squash and 14 day pickles waiting on those tomatoes so I can get those done for soups and sauces. and for the Peach guy to call and say peaches are ready, Blueberries are starting to come off here now in NC, Love those little jewels to, girl aint nothin like a blueberry pound cake, muffins cobblers pies warm from the oven,, now that just makes me want to go call Ms Pearl and see if hers are ready to pick think I ll do just that. Have a great day Christy

  10. Ruthanne says

    Christy…I’ve been your fan from the beginning and you just keep getting better and better….this recipe for corn relish will “knock their socks off”….Thank you for always surprising us with these wonderful recipes……

    Luv, Luv, Luv You!!!!!

  11. Terri go Dawgs says

    Hi C! Reading this post about canning and relish, sure brings back memories of my Dad’s mama…..always canning, putting things away for later. The frugal and thrifty lessons remain with me. I just love the idea of having “Food Insurance” just in case of lean times in this economy or a natural disaster. Stocking up food makes me feel good about our pantry providing for our family annnnd others, if need be. Thanks for all you do, sweet wonderful Christy. You ROCK! OXO

  12. Denise in Dallas says

    You’re right! Canning isn’t difficult; I’ve canned my Cranberry Jalapeno jelly that I like to give away at Thanksgiving. Delicious on turkey! We’ve also canned my Mother-in-law’s Apple Butter (Christy, you know how good this is!)

    What do you like to serve the corn relish with?

    Hugs back,

    Warren and Denise in Dallas

  13. Marianne says

    My Mom loves Corn Relish, she puts it on a lot of things, but really we all use it in many ways, great on hot dogs, even on burgers! I use it as a sauce for pork chops and chicken. It’s so versatile the flavors compliment so many dishes. Thanks for sharing this recipe, others I’ve tried haven’t matched the flavors I was hoping for, this one does!!! Thanks again, will be making this tomorrow, I just picked six more peppers from my garden and a slew of tomatoes!! Thanks for all that you do!!!!

  14. k says

    We save and box up our jars, too! My grandmother used to say when she gave us something in a canning jar, “bring back the jar and I’ll fill it up again!” This motivated us to always return her jars!

  15. Regina Fischer says

    For those who do not like it that sour I add 1 cup of water to 5 cups vinegar.
    It does can and keep well – mine never lasts long enough to spoil.
    Those who want to know what to eat it on or with — EVERYTHING! It is great in a bowl of beans, as a side dish with pork chops and all.
    I also do not put in celery seed or tumeric. Little seeds gets under Hubbies dentures, I have used finely chopped celery.

    For running out of fruit jars, It is a shame manufacturer”s of mayonnaise, miracle whip, jellies no longer put there products in glass reusable jars. That’s what grandma used to use alot. She always canned in some of those just for give aways.

  16. says

    Wow Christy! Another reason I like you. I LOVE to can too. I think it is a dying art. I was recently given a pressure cooker for canning and have enjoyed it tremendously. Before, I just canned things that I could with water bathing. My dad was telling me while growing up in the depression in a small town that the govt had a cannery set up in the town. You would bring your garden veggies, the govt would supply the canning stuff and they would show you how to can your veggies. Times were hard and people had very little to live on. This was one way to make sure they had food in the winter. What a great idea!

  17. says

    today I only had to work 1/2 day because we had school registration one evening as well as the morning.So at 12:30 hubby and I drove to the Mennonite farm store and got 25 lbs. of tomatoes for 10 dollars!! They are so good. Then we came home and we made 7 pints of salsa. We are going to make another “batch” tomorrow after my first day of teaching pre-k. I am a glutton for punishment but with us starting school so early, it’s teaching and canning.

  18. Pat Powell says

    Any chance you might have a recipe for a base for Homemade Soup? Every year I try to pu jars of soup mix from our local church bazaar. I just never seem to get enough to last all winter. Thought I might try it myself. I get so excited when I see an email notice from you on my computer. I know something good is following. Keep up the great work.

    Pat Powell

  19. Lee Thomas says

    That looks wonderful! I may just have to try this out, I have some fresh corn ready to pick in my garden… and tomato’s, and peppers… LOL

    I am glad to see that the canning jar labels still come in handy! I wonder how many people are now using that, huh? It’s kinda cool to see my jam on your site! :-)

  20. wdgriggs says

    I’ve got a BIG problem.

    I love to can. I’m ok with both waterbath and pressure canner. I’ve canned for the past four years, corn relish, watermelon rind pickles, peaches, pears, and boiled peanuts.

    People love my canned goods. But my problem, I can’t bring myself to eat anything I’ve canned. Kinda a phobia…… think I need a shrink. Any advice besides a frontal lebotomy?

  21. Debra says

    This was the first thing I ever canned, and last year gave away a lot of it as part of holiday gift baskets. Tonight, at a big family dinner, we used up the last few jars I had left. While we were eating I happen to mention that this year I wouldn’t be canning this corn relish again this year because I wanted to stick to my rarer recipes, figuring you can get corn relish anywhere. In unison, almost everyone at the table said, “Not like this you can’t!” Due to popular request, I’ll be making this again in a few weeks. A double batch. (If not, I may be kicked out of the family!)

    All corn relishes are not created equal. This one is a real winner!

  22. Elizabeth K. says

    I just put up two dozen jars of this today. Now I wish it were winter so I could have some! Fingers crossed that one of the jars didn’t seal and I’ll have to eat it up tomorrow. ;-)

  23. Carlee @ says

    Thanks for the great article and yummy recipe! I have been reflecting a lot about my mother and those before her. They had no microwaves, dishwashers and so many other conveniences we take for granted. I began canning to connect to my roots and gain a valuable skill in case this country tanks it.
    It is great to be able to utilize the previous experiences so many of you are willing to share!

  24. Kandie says

    Hi Christy. I finally tried this today with leftover produce from neighbors. I only had 8 half-pint jars so I made half the recipe, and noting that an earlier comment mentioned the relish was a bit sour to her taste, I split the vinegar and sugar half and half, and it came out sweet with a pucker. :-) Wonderful! The jars are so pretty on my counter I hate to put them away. Thank you again for teaching me how to cook Souther Plate-style.

  25. Tina Finicum says

    Yee haw! I found a corn relish recipe! I have corn on the cob I just bought on the discount shelf. Can i use it instead of frozen and can i just use water batch method? Have you ever tried it with jalepenos for a spicy version?I don’t have a pressure canner. THanks.

  26. Mari O'Neill says

    Can’t wait to can this corn relish recipe – my grandmother made outstanding corn relish when I was a girl, and of course the recipe wasn’t written down, except I remember it was a quart of everything. This looks exactly like hers!

  27. Aquaria says

    I’ll have to try this one.

    I scared my mother this year by canning all by my lonesome. I was given a bunch of of strawberries. I know–most of you can eat them all day long, but it’s just my husband and me, and we just can’t eat that many before they go bad.

    I hadn’t canned since 1976 with my mom, and I’d never done it buy myself. But I couldn’t let those beautiful strawberries go to waste. So I canned those suckers.

    It was easier than I remembered. Then again, my mother wasn’t terribly organized, cut the wrong corners and made things more difficult than they had to be. Plus, she had Z-E-R-O patience, and there I was trying to help but getting yelled at. No wonder I disappeared into my room when she dragged the jars out of the storage shed!

  28. Sherri R says

    I had to tell you I made this relish and gave some to my Great-Aunt who (Lord willing) will be 102 in September. She loved it and has asked me to bring her some more when I come visit!!!
    You know a recipe is good when an “older” Southern cook gives it thumbs up and requests more!!!

  29. heather whitbread says

    For those of you looking for affordable canning jars, check out some of your local thrift stores. We have often found a good variety of different sizes of canning jars and then all you need to buy is the lids :)

  30. Frances S. Hughes says

    Hey, Christy, I love to can also! My sisters look at me when I talk about canning and say “We watched Mother do too much of that to want to can!”. Anyhow, your corn relish looks great, and I am going to try it. Do you have a recipe for green tomato pickles? My late, precious mother in law would slice a tomato into 8ths around and pickle and they were stupendous. Of course she did not use recipes!
    Any help from anyone would be much appreciated! Can on, ya’ll!

  31. Janet Deveraux says

    Dumb question but, can I freeze this relish on freezer boxes? Disabled so hard to stand and lift especially hot things. This sounds so good. Red beans, yes ma’am!

  32. Annette Crossley says

    Hi Christy, just wanted to say I love your corn relish recipe. I use to watch my Big Mama can vegetables when we were little kids, and I remember her making this corn relish, but she would always call it succotash.

    • says

      I would always always always use a water bath for something like this and tomatoes, too. I know folks have done it in hot jars in the past and not died from it but that isn’t actually canning or preserving the food, and since it isn’t processed, the temperature isn’t reached to safely kill the bacteria present in veggies, jars, etc. It’s a recipe for botulism in an environment that it thrives in. Just ten to fifteen minutes at a full rolling boil (with the lid on the pot) changes everything and gives you a safe end product with no worries whatsoever :)


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