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Sweet Pepper Relish

The Pure Portugal office is set within land that is used by the landlady’s sister and her husband. At the moment I am listening to the gentle tinkle of sheep bells, as the herd is here eating up the corn stalks and fertilising the land. The sheep are in a small pen made of metal gates (cancelas) that slot together, and the pen is moved to a new patch of land every day – this is a great way to feed the herd, plus clean and fertilise the land all in one go (Portuguese smallholders have been practising permaculture forever, they just didn’t give it a name!)


Also in the garden are lots of peppers which I’ve been told to help myself to, I didn’t want to be too greedy but Sweet Pepper Chutney has been on my mind! With the storm last week a lot of the plants got knocked over and the fruits are on the ground, so yesterday I went and helped myself to a big basketfull of all the peppers that would otherwise rot before they can be used.

Here’s the recipe I use, from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

I tend to use whichever spices I have (as I never seem to have what is required for any given recipe). The first time I made this recipe I found it too salty, so the next time I reduced the salt to 2 tsps, and used 1 tsp chilli flakes, 1 tsp turmeric, and 3 tsp coriander seed – this one was perfect! This year I’ve developed more of a taste for salt so I’ve used the full 4 tsps, plus 3 small but fat fresh chillis, 1 tsp turmeric, and 3 tsp mustard seed. I haven’t done a taste test yet as the flavour won’t fully develop for a month or so, but the house still smells amazing today!

Sweet Pepper Relish

  • 5 cups ground green bell peppers (About 7 to 8 peppers, or 3 to 4 pounds before grinding)
  • 5 cups ground red bell peppers (About 7 to 8 peppers, or 3 to 4 pounds before grinding)
  • 1-½ cups ground onion (3 medium yellow onions, 2.5 to 3 inches diameter, before grinding)
  • 2-½ cups cider or white distilled vinegar (5%)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons pickling salt
  • 4 teaspoons mustard seed

Yield: About 6 pint jars

Please read Using Boiling Water Canners before beginning. If this is your first time canning, it is recommended that you read Principles of Home Canning.


1.  Wash and rinse pint or half-pint canning jars; keep hot until ready to fill.  Prepare lids and ring bands according to manufacturer’s directions.

2.  Wash peppers well; trim to remove stems and seeds.  Peel, core and wash onions.  Cut peppers and onions into large pieces. Coarsely grind peppers and onions (see Note at end of procedure).

3.  Measure 5 cups of each type of ground bell peppers with their juice, and 1-½ cups of the ground onion, including juice. Combine the measured peppers and onions with the remaining ingredients into a large stockpot.  Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and cook at a low boil for 30 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching.

4.  Fill the hot relish into prepared hot pint jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. If needed, remove air bubbles and re-adjust headspace to ½-inch. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel.  Adjust lids and bands.

5.  Process in a boiling water canner according to the recommendations in Table 1.  Let cool, undisturbed, 12 to 24 hours and check for seals.

Table 1. Recommended process time for Sweet Pepper Relish in a boiling-water canner.
Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 – 1,000 ft 1,001 – 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot Pints or Half-pints 10 min 15 20

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