I am the lucky recipient of this hand-me-down recipe from my great grandma Ida Ell, to my grandmother Ann Ell, to my uncle Gerard Ell, to me.Jump to Recipe
You see, it takes just one member of the family to preserve a family treasure, and today I am thrilled to share this special relish recipe with you.
What a wonderful way to use up the bounty of the garden and not waste anything by utilizing the stems of the Swiss chard.
As well, I feel absolutely tickled to think that my great grandmother living on a farm in Saskatchewan used turmeric and curry powder in her cooking. Any cooking!
That is so unusual!! Go pickles, go relish, go preserves, because these are often the combinations that stretch our tastebuds. These are indeed our digestives.
Now, you should know that you don’t taste the curry here really, because there’s plenty of vinegar, sugar, and vegetables to mask the taste.
It’s more for that glorious yellow color, complexity and depth of flavor, as well as the bit of warmth and digestive support.
I shared my relish with lunch guests recently, along with my Swiss chard crostata, and they loved it. I hope you do too.
The joy of canning
Canning is not something I grew up with, but I did grow up around it, because my mom’s siblings and my grandma canned jams, relishes, beets, etc.
I have such fond memories of just how special it was to receive a homemade jar of preserves from one of them.
Only after starting a backyard garden did I experience the yearning and need to take up canning myself. When you have a garden, its abundance tends to push you into preserves.
This particular recipe is sheer joy because of the connection to my family history … and that turmeric … which is a staple in my kitchen.
Speaking of culture, it’s funny that my husband—who is from India, and very familiar with pickles and chutneys—definitely struggles to understand this one.
But it’s sweet, so he like it. What’s not to like?
If you are familiar with canning, then my instructions below will be easy to follow.
If you are new to canning, I still hope they will be easy to follow.
To help everyone, I have created a step-by-step video so that you can understand the process easily.
That’s not to say that you have to seal your jars. You can make this relish and keep it in the fridge. It’s going to last a good long while due to the presence of the sugar and vinegar.
You might want to halve the recipe, or plan to give jars of fresh relish to your friends and family like I will be.
Get yourself set up on a Sunday, and enjoy the process either way.
Other Swiss chard recipes you may enjoy
My mom says she loves steamed chard with a little butter and salt (LOL - buttered veg :).
Recipe for Great Grandma Ida Ell’s Swiss Chard Stem Relish (Canning)
- 4 cups swiss chard stems , (1 quart)
- 2 cups celery stalk , (½ quart)
- 4 cups onions, (1 quart)
- 1 red pepper
- 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt, (1 tablespoon table salt)
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 ½ cups water, (or to cover)
for the sauce
- 2 cups sugar
- ¼ cup corn starch, (substitute with arrowroot or tapioca starch)
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- ½ tablespoon turmeric powder
- ½ tablespoon curry powder
prepare the vegetables
- Separate the leafy parts from the Swiss chard stems, and keep the leaves aside for another dish.
- Chop the Swiss chard stems, along with the celery, onions, and red pepper, into small pieces. However you chop the pieces will determine the consistency of your relish (I like about½-inch).
start the relish
- Place chopped vegetables in a large bowl and add salt. Mix well and allow to sit for one hour. The salt will draw some of the liquid out and pre-ferment the vegetables. Rinse the vegetables in cold water and drain.
- Add vegetables, along with the vinegar and water, to a large pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
make the sauce and finish
- Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the sauce.
- Use a ladle to remove about 2 cups of cooking liquid from the vegetables and mix it together with the sauce ingredients.
- Add the sauce to the pot with the vegetables, stirring continuously. Simmer 2-3 minutes, until the mixture thickens.
- Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate. If you would like to preserve your jars for the winter, see the recipe notes!
Method for canning
- We will use the water bath canning method for 15 minutes. You will need a pot large enough to hold your canning jars, and a trivet or steamer insert to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot to avoid breaking jars. You will also need a jar lifter and a funnel to fill the jars. Your jars will also need fresh sealing lids and rings.
- Fill the pot with water and place empty jars in the water. Bring to a boil and boil for 5-10 minutes. Alternately, run your jars through a sterilizing cycle in the dishwasher.
- Transfer hot Swiss chard stem relish into jars using the funnel. Leave at least ¼ inch space at the top of the jars. Use a clean cloth to wipe the top edges of the jars clean. Cover with sterilized lids, then add the rings and tighten until finger tight.
- Use a jar lifter to transfer the prepared jars into the water bath. Set a timer for 15 minutes after the water begins to boil. Remove using the jar lifter and allow to cool for 24 hours, or overnight.
- Remove the rings and check the seals. Wash jars using soap and water, then dry. Label with the contents and date. Store in a cool, dry place.