Two Ways to Make My Grandmother's Favorite Corn Relish

Updated on April 2, 2018

Summer at Home Meant Corn Relish

Every summer my mother made a large batch of corn relish using recipe notes she had jotted down from her mother's kitchen. She canned it in jars, and we enjoyed it all year round. I loved the vinegary aroma of this stuff as it simmered, anticipating its mouth-watering goodness, and could hardly wait to sample a dish of it still warm from the stove. The original recipe ingredients and quantities for one full batch are included below, but since I don't grow my own vegetables or can them (and our family is small), my simplified recipe works well for us. Instead of starting with whole ears of corn, I use packaged frozen corn kernels, and instead of chopping up cabbage, I use bagged, shredded coleslaw. This is definitely not a low-sodium dish, nor is it overly sweet, despite the amount of sugar. It is, however, very tasty, and we have always liked it. Here is my version:

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KT's Shortcut Corn Relish

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: About 3 quarts


  • One 32-ounce bag frozen corn kernels (equal to about 6 ears of corn)
  • Two 10-ounce bags shredded coleslaw (equal to about 1 small head of cabbage)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • water
Ingredients for KT's Shortcut Corn Relish
Ingredients for KT's Shortcut Corn Relish
  1. Clean and chop the peppers.
  2. Place the corn into a 5-quart or larger cooking pot and add water just to cover the corn. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add the sugar, mustard, vinegar, mustard seed, chopped peppers, cabbage, and salt to the pan, stirring to combine. The cabbage cooks down quite a bit.
  4. Gradually return the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until corn and peppers are cooked through. You may uncover and allow it to reduce slightly for the last 5-10 minutes; this is not critical.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  6. Place in covered containers, making sure to distribute the liquid over the vegetables, and store in the refrigerator. I like to use canning jars for this, but I keep them refrigerated only, and do not actually place them in a hot water bath for canning purposes. Although I like to try some while it is still warm, the flavor is enhanced by cooling and/or chilling. Note: I have not tried freezing this.
Chopped peppers
Chopped peppers
Just cover the corn with water and bring to a boil
Just cover the corn with water and bring to a boil
Add the other ingredients and cook for about a half hour
Add the other ingredients and cook for about a half hour

I think the shortcut version tastes almost as good as the original, but if you find yourself with lots of corn on hand and want to try something different, see the original version below.

Grandma's Original Corn Relish

Here are my mother's guidelines for my grandmother's original recipe:

  • One dozen ears corn
  • Two medium heads cabbage
  • 4 peppers - red and green
  • 1 T mustard seeds
  • 1-1/2 cups prepared mustard
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 T salt
  • 2 or 3 cups apple cider vinegar (to taste)


  1. Add water to corn and bring to boil. Add sugar, mustard, vinegar, mustard seed, chopped peppers (red and green), and cabbage. Cook about one-half hour.
  2. I sprinkle a little salt on corn when I put on to cook and a little on the chopped cabbage (rather than salt all at once). Also to the one head I usually use not too much corn; I use 1 cup sugar, 1 cup mustard, and 1 cup vinegar. This recipe I have always liked.
  3. Once the relish was done, she would keep some out to serve at the table, pack the rest into sterilized canning jars, and process in a hot water bath.
  4. Enjoy!

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