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?

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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. 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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