Pickle Relish Recipe

Pickle relish recipe

Nothing says love like a homemade dill pickle relish recipe. Okay, so maybe some things do — like chocolate, or an Australian Shiraz wine, or a foot massage. Oh, and then there are those adorable squeezy hugs that my boys are so keen on giving. I’m getting sidetracked.

I love pickle relish, particularly dill pickle relish. And when I became a label Nazi, I realized I needed to create a dill pickle relish recipe that could keep my family in fresh, old-fashioned, pro-biotic, lacto-fermented pickle relish until kingdom come. That’s because store bought pickle relish (even dill pickle relish!) not only contains nasties like high fructose corn syrup or sugar, but it’s also made with a vinegar brine and industrial canning. In other words, the dill pickle relish you buy at the store is dead — nothing at all like the sour, fizzy, old-fashioned pickle relish recipes our great-grandmothers were famous for.

So, I did what I always do when I want a recipe. I looked online. Nothing. I searched for lacto-fermented pickle relish recipes and found nada, zip, zilch, zero.

Then I did what I always do after I check online. I scoured my cookbooks. I found a recipe for Pickled Cucumbers in Nourishing Traditions (one of my Top 5 recommended cookbooks), and set about adapting it into a good pickle relish recipe.

This is the result.

Pickle Relish Recipe

The Players

  • 4-5 pickling cucumbers
  • 2 tbsp. fresh dill (or 2 tsp. dried dill)
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt (where to find real sea salt)
  • 4 tbsp. whey (drained from yogurt, if not available, use an extra 1 tbsp. salt)

The How-To

1. Wash cucumbers well & grate them in a food processor or by hand. Stir in remaining ingredients.

2. Place mixture in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar. Using a kitchen mallet or wooden spoon, squeeze the grated cucumbers down and allow liquid to cover them. If there’s not enough liquid to cover, add filtered water to get the job done. The top of the liquid should be at least one inch below the top of the jar (that’s to make room for all that glorious fermentation).

3. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 2 days before transferring to cold storage.

4. Open and enjoy! This dill pickle relish recipe produces an old-fashioned, fresh, dill pickle relish that will last up to a couple of months in the refrigerator, although most of the pro-biotic benefit from the lactic acid fermenetation will be lost by then. (In other words, the sooner you eat it, the more healthful it is for you!)

P.S. If you’re intimidated by the idea of fermenting your own condiments at home, there are folks who are in the business of doing it for you. Why not check out the listings on my Resources Page to see what’s available in your area?


  1. Teresa B says

    THANKS!!!! I love dill relish and just discovered the same thing you did about ingredients. Your solution could not have been more timely! :)

  2. says

    Bubbies brand (out of San Francisco or the Bay area, I think) makes traditional lacto-fermented pickles and pickle relish and can sometimes be found in conventional supermarkets in the chilled pickle case (I have found them at Stater Bros and Ralph’s in the San Diego area). Some “natural” food stores also stock Bubbies products. Bubbies also makes a good lacto-fermented sauerkraut. The products are more expensive than their industrially processed vinegar counterparts, but overall, very reasonably priced.

    Note not all Bubbies products are lacto-fermented. I think the horseradish isn’t, for example. check the label to be sure.

  3. says

    What if you can’t find pickling cucumbers? Are others okay to use too? I am LOVING my fermented foods, they make me feel so good all the time. So I need more, bigger variety (so far kombucha and yogurt are all I have, water kefir…well, we’ve sort of given up on that for now). This relish sounds great, I think I would eat a spoonful everyday even if I had nothing to put it on.
    .-= Kate´s last blog post …Fermented Food Challenge =-.

  4. Deborah says

    I followed the directions for this recipe and it didn’t taste fermented, only salty. Even after storing it in the fridge after fermenting on the counter for 2 days. any suggestions on what went wrong? should it ferment longer on the counter if the home temp is 80 degrees? I used sea salt and whey as directed. mine was a fine sea salt. does that make a difference? I really wanted this to work :-(

  5. Angela says

    Wonderful recipe! This will be my first foray into fermentation. I don’t have sea salt nor can I afford any at the moment (working part time, firt trimester of pregnancy sucks!). I do have table salt, pickling salt, and rock salt in a little grinder. Which of these options would be best in replacing the sea salt in this recipe?


  6. Kim says

    I am very interested to hear the answers to many of these questions. I am also wondering how many cups of chopped pickles this recipe calls for. I have some large ones and wonder how any I should use.

  7. says

    This looks good – I make a similar thing without the whey. And I just wanted to weigh in (ha) to say that the bit about it being more probiotic the sooner you eat it is not really true. The populations of beneficial bacteria will change over time and will increase in diversity, not decrease, as fermentation continues. Also, lactic acid levels will increase as time goes on, which has it’s own slew of awesome health benefits. If you omit the whey you can let the relish ferment for longer without it getting soft as fast.

  8. Lisa says

    I was just wondering if anyone has tried freezing this recipe? We love making fermented foods, but our fridge gets too full to last all winter long. I thought the relish might be a good one for the freezer, since it doesn’t require any crunch. What do you think?

  9. Annie says

    Can sweetener be added to this relish? My husband really likes sweet pickle relish. If so, when is the best time to add it and how much? And what sweetener is best? Honey? Granulated cane sugar? Maple syrup?

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