Zesty Corn Relish | Canning

Zesty Corn Relish | www.foodiewithfamily.com

I had a realization yesterday. It dawned on me that I am what you call a volume canner. I always thought, “I do a fair amount of canning.” and was fine with that. But when I posted a picture of a small portion of what I had taken advantage of the long holiday weekend to preserve, folks’ reactions made me consider it a little more deeply. “Wow!!” “Woah!!!” “Holy moly!” Er, what?

Oh, I guess not everyone fills five hundred jars in an average summer? (Duh, Rebecca.) Obsessed? Yeah, quite possibly… but here’s the thing. I fill jars with items that are delicious, versatile, and NOT PURCHASABLE. Okay, maybe some of the items can be bought in a store, but the majority of them are unattainable unless you make them yourself or are friends with an obsessive canner (like me) who likes to share the proverbial or literal fruits of their labor (like me. Alright. The truth is that if you walk in my house in canning season, you’re likely to find yourself cornered with a spoon full of something pushed toward your face and the phrase, “Try this and tell me what you think!” uttered earnestly.) And the items that can (pun alert) be bought? I like to think my version tastes a little fresher, is a little better for you, and has a little more romance to it. I’m looking your way concord grape jelly made from grapes I picked with my kids.

I have about five items I make in quantities that give even me pause when I contemplate the numbers. Smoky Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa (at least 86 pints each summer), Candied Jalapenos (in excess of 100 jars annually between what we eat and what we give for gifts), Garlic Dill Pickles (anywhere between 76 and 96 quarts), Homemade Unsweetened Fruit Juice (apple, Concord grape, Niagara grape about 60 quarts of concentrate), and the good stuff you see in that picture above (this year, I have about 50 pints and I’m still planning on another couple of batches!) What you’re looking at is Zesty Corn Relish.

Zesty Corn Relish is the combined adaptation of a recipe from ‘The Joy of Pickling’ by my little sister, Jessamine, and I. Jess and I share the canning madness and when the weather cools, we often swap our goods. A while back, Jess passed a jar of her version of the corn relish my way. It sat on my shelves among my other canned goods for a while waiting for the right moment. That moment came one night when we had Pulled Pork Tacos (made with this recipe!) on deck and I realized I had forgotten to make any goodies to serve on top. The jar of Jessie’s corn relish came up from the basement and disappeared instantly amidst indecent noises of approval and joy. We knew that was getting made in abundance at that moment.

Jess shared her alterations to the recipe with me, and I decided to add a little more heat to the party by adding jalapeños. The result is a jar of FRESH corn taste (you know corn never tastes as good as when it’s fresh from the field, right? This gets pretty darned close and is a heckuva lot closer than any frozen or canned corn you can buy at the store in February!) that has a surprising chameleon quality.  It goes with e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.  Tacos, chili, beans and rice, pot roast (this use comes straight from my Grandma and it is glorious, let me tell you!), grilled or broiled chicken, pork, or fish, sausage… Put it on or in just about anything, stir it into jarred salsa for extra texture or serve it alone with tortilla chips as a stand alone salsa. My sis serves it as a side salad sometimes! Trust me. Once you’ve tried this, you’re going to want shelves lined with crunchy, savoury, sweet, zippy, Zesty Corn Relish.

5 from 1 reviews
Zesty Corn Relish | Canning
Serve this updated classic corn relish with tacos, chili, beans and rice, pot roast, grilled or broiled chicken, pork, or fish, sausage, stir it into jarred salsa for extra texture or serve it alone with tortilla chips as a stand alone salsa. You can even chill a jar and serve it as a side salad! Trust me. Once you've tried this, you're going to want shelves lined with crunchy, savoury, sweet, zippy, Zesty Corn Relish.
  • 18 ears of fresh sweet corn on the cob
  • 2 cups diced red bell pepper
  • 1½ cups diced green bell pepper *See Notes
  • ½ cup minced fresh jalapeno **See Notes
  • ¼ cup minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons coarse Kosher salt
  • 4 teaspoons dried mustard powder
  • 4 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • ⅔ cup light brown sugar
  1. Sterilize at least 10 pint jars (you may only use 6, but it's better to have too many jars ready than to have to sterilize more jars while your relish waits!) If you need help learning how to do this, follow these instructions.
  2. Shuck the corn and carefully remove the silks. Stand each ear of corn sturdily on its end on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to remove the kernels. Discard the cobs (or use in Corn Stock
  3. In a large stainless steel or other nonreactive pot, stir together all of the ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. When it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Ladle the hot corn relish into sterile jars, leaving ½-inch of headspace in the jar. Remove air bubbles, adjust corn and liquid level if necessary to maintain the ½-inch headspace. Wipe and clean the rim of the jars with a paper towel moistened with vinegar. Fix new two piece lids in place and screw the rings to fingertip tightness.
  5. Put the filled, lidded jars in a canner, ensure they are covered by at least an inch of hot water, bring to a boil, and process for 15 minutes at a full boil, covered. When the 15 minutes are up, turn off the heat, remove the lid and let the jars rest in the water for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack or a clean towel lined counter top.
  6. Let them cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. When they are completely cool, carefully remove the rings, wipe the jars clean, label (with sharpie or sticker), and store on a shelf in a place out of direct sunlight for up to a year.
You can adjust the proportions of green bell peppers and jalapenos to make the level of heat exactly as you prefer it. Want it totally mild? Omit the jalapenos entirely and use 2 full cups of green bell pepper. Would you like it to pack some punch? After stemming the jalapenos, leave the seeds intact when you're mincing them and increase the overall amount of jalapenos while decreasing the amount of green bell peppers. IMPORTANT! If you are increasing one type of pepper, do not forget to decrease the overall amount of the other pepper by the same amount. You must keep the total of the green or jalapeno pepper at 2 cups to maintain the proper acidity to prevent microbial growth in this relish.

*If you want your jalapenos to be a little more powerful, leave the seeds in when you mince them. I prefer to remove the seeds before mincing because I like the texture better. Follow your own preference for the ultimate Zesty Corn Relish.

So tell me… do you can? Are you a hobby canner or an obsessive one or somewhere in between? If you’re new to canning and need the gear, below are links to my favourite canning equipment.

Canning Gear Basics:

(all Amazon.com affiliate links.)


  1. says

    I wanna be your neighbor! I don’t really know anyone else that cans, and my mom is no longer nearby to help out with questions etc. I love preserving, but I often feel lost, and afraid that I’m going to do it wrong and give some one botulism! Thanks for sharing this recipe, I may have to give it a try. And I agree what little I do can I give most of it away…it’s so fun to share!

  2. Patrick Barringer says

    Perfect timing on this recipe Rebecca. I was coming online specifically to look for a good corn canning recipe since my in-laws have an abundance of corn this year. I hope we get the chance to make this.

    In other news, Emily and I are now officially living in Rushford and will have our own place soon. We should hang out.

  3. Greer says

    Just out of curiosity…why do you remove the rings after the water bath? This is the first time I’ve heard of someone doing that.

    • says

      I do this because it makes spoilage in the jar patently obvious. If you go to remove the lid (that was stored without the ring) and it pulls off with no resistance or sound you know the contents are likely to be spoiled!

      • Sharon says

        Sorry I guess I meant how many cups come off the ears in order to start the recipe so I have the right proportions. We planted corn for the first time this year. I’m super excited to try your recipe. Thanks

        • says

          No worries! I hate to be ish-ish again, but between 8-10 cups-ish :) there’s a little bit of play there as you can tell. That’s why you’re so careful with the pepper measurements. I wish I could try yours from home grown corn!!!

  4. Daina says

    I’m fairly new to canning. I have a friend in Colorado who has five children, runs a farm (including livestock and vegetable gardening), holds down a job, and cans like a crazy woman all while her husband travels for work (I totally mean “crazy woman” in the best way!). One taste of her homemade salsa and I was determined to try it myself. I figure if she can put up her tomatoes and peaches and other stuff with everything else on her plate, then I surely can give it a shot seeing as how I don’t run a farm, or have five children plus a job and a travelling husband. So, seeing this Corn Relish recipe is like throwing down a gauntlet – if I see it, I’m going to try it! I love putting up all the jars in my pantry. :)

  5. Natalie Loop says

    my questions are Should I use a pressure canner if so what weight and how long for pints? the other question is do I need to blanche the corn before shucking? I did corn in water bath last year the jars sealed but eventually during the course of the year they opened on their own. I was dissapointed in the time and product used only to go to waste.

    • says

      Hi Natalie! Let me address these one at a time so I don’t forget anything!

      1.) This is a recipe designed to be boiling water bathed because it is essentially a pickled vegetable. I wouldn’t pressure can this, that might be overkill.
      2.) No blanching is necessary. You bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. That’s plenty sufficient. I find the raw corn is easier to remove from the cob anyway!
      3.) Unlike the recipe above, boiling water bathing is not recommended for plain sweet corn. (Like I mentioned, the Zesty Corn Relish is okay to water bathe because of the vinegar/acidity content.) I think boiling water bathing plain corn was probably the issue.

      The method for this recipe came straight from “The Joy of Pickling”. It is nearly identical to the method used for corn relish in the “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving” and the Ball book is one of the few cookbooks that can claim it has all tested and approved recipes.

  6. says

    I am looking for a corn relish recipe with no sugar,more of a salty sour flavor. one of my aunts use to make this when I was a kid.she has passed now,but I remember how I loved that flavor as a kid. can you hook me up with a recipe like that? Janet

    • says

      Hi Janet. I wish I knew, but this is the corn relish I grew up with (my grandma used to serve it on Sundays with pot roast.) Now this corn relish IS tart and salty, but I can’t imagine a corn relish completely without sweetness since corn is so darned sweet by itself. Maybe some of the other readers might have a recipe in their boxes? Could anyone weigh in with one?

    • Sandy says

      I have the same question. I am going to make the relish today using frozen organic corn. I’ll let you know how it turns out! I might also swap out some of the peppers with onions. Happy canning!

  7. Uvon says

    So, I’m relatively new to canning, but my battle cry is Fear Not the Botulism, so I’m good there.

    The problem I’m looking at is that my boyfriend HATES green bell peppers. The thought of just making this anyway and leaving him to suffer in his foolishness has crossed my mind. However, is there any sort of alternative that would provide proper acidity? The idea of putting 2 cups of jalapeno into this relish makes my teeth sweat.

  8. Erin says

    I was looking for a great recipe for Corn Relish and found you on Pintrest because your photos are so great! I always look at several recipes before I choose one, and choose yours. I love it! My husband was like… huh… what are you canning now? After cooking for 20 mins… he was no longer skeptical. I had lots of corn left over and tried a new recipe today, one without sugar and had onions, and celery in it… not so yummy. Going to have to give it a little time before we rule that one out.

    Thanks for posting such a great recipe and sharing with the world. This one got added to my home canning recipe binder. Do you have a good recipe for Hot Pepper Relish or Chow Chow? I will have to keep digging through your post.

    Thanks again! Hope you are super busy with a wonderful summer harvest.

  9. Dotty H says

    I’m going to can!! I”m sorta feeling like my Grandma (loved her!) And this is going to be my first recipe–loved her corn relish, but I like spicy stuff! Question, I don’t have a canning pot, but I do have a pot big enough to put my jars into and cover while the water boils. Will that work or do I need a canning pot with in inserts?

    • says

      That will be FINE! I’d advise putting a dishrag in the bottom of the pot to keep the jars from hopping around too much, but as long as you can cover it with water and put a lid on it, it should work well!

  10. Barb says

    Am going to try this tomorrow with some of the excess of our 3 acres of sweet corn. May do a second batch and add onion to the mix since I love onion. sounds awesome.

  11. L.T. Wheeler says

    Going to try this recipe tonight… looks great & i am grateful for all the elaborate tips, recipes info. & descriptive entries about this ! I just acquired tons of corn and going for it tonight
    Thanks , LT


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