Recipe: Fabulous Fermented Sweet Corn Relish

This recipe for fermented sweet corn relish uses delicious summer sweet corn for a crunchy, sweet and tangy condiment that's both tasty and versatile.

by Stephanie Thurow
PHOTO: Stephanie Thurow

Here in Minnesota, we look forward to sweet corn all summer long. We have fields upon fields of corn growing all over the state. By the 4th of July, everyone has taken note whether or not the corn has grown to “knee high” yet (that’s the official way to measure that it’s on schedule here in the midwest).

When the first ears of fresh sweet corn appear at the farm stands, it’s truly a celebratory occasion. Meals are planned around what can be served with corn. There are few things as delicious as biting into a freshly harvested ear of sweet corn.

That being said, it makes sense to try and preserve some of the goodness. That’s why I developed this fermented sweet corn relish recipe. 

Through fermentation, the flavors meld together, yet the corn remains crunchy and delicious. This fermented sweet corn relish can be eaten as a side dish, stirred into a salad, used as a condiment to top pulled pork sandwiches, tacos or other proteins. 

Yield: 1 quart jar


  • 2.5 cups fresh corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, finely minced (optional for spice)
  • 1 tbsp. coarse kosher salt, dissolved in 2 cups water

Read more: Sweet corn is a delicious summer treat, but storage corn does a lot, too!

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Shuck and rinse corn. Shave the kernels off the cob, and reserve them in a bowl. Prep the bell pepper, onion, garlic and jalapeno (optional), and mix with corn.

Transfer mixture into a clean quart size canning jar. 

Mix brine ingredients and pour over the corn mixture until the corn is completely submerged by at least 1/2 inch. Leave at least 1 inch of headspace so that the ferment has room to bubble without overflowing. (Headspace: the room from the top of the brine to the top of the jar rim.)

If you have a small fermentation jar weight, add it to the jar to hold down the produce under the brine. Remove any small pieces of food that float up to the top of the brine, as anything above the brine will increase the risk of mold.

Wipe off the rim of the jar with a clean dampened towel. Add the canning jar lid and tightly screw on the ring.


This fermented sweet corn relish is a two- to four-day ferment. Ferment at room temperature, ideally between 60-75 degrees F (15-23 degrees C) and keep out of direct sunlight.

Burp the jar daily. Just unscrew the lid briefly and tighten it back on to allow any built-up gas to release (and avoid possible jar breakage or the ferment from overflowing). It is completely normal to see little bubbles or even foam-like bubbling occur at the top of the ferment.

Check on the ferment daily to make sure that the brine covers all the produce. If any produce has floated above the brine level, use a clean utensil to push it back below the brine. 

Taste test at day two to check the flavor. If ingredients still taste very raw, allow it to ferment another 24 hours and taste again. Once the flavors have transformed to your liking, transfer the jar into the refrigerator, with the brine and all.

Fermentation does not stop once you put the fermentin the refrigerator, however it does slow the process way down. The taste and texture will continue to change. Therefore, you should enjoy this ferment within six months. 

Read more: Check out this tasty fermented onion pepper relish recipe!

Side Notes

Use the freshest corn you can find. The fresher, the better.

You may substitute the jalapeño for 1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes.

If you do not have a glass jar weight, you can improvise by using an easily removable small food-grade glass dish that fits inside the jar. Or, if you have a smaller glass canning jar that can fit into the mouth of the jar you are fermenting with, you can use that to keep the produce pushed under the brine.

If you are unsure if your water is safe for fermentation, you can boil it and allow it to cool to room temperature before stirring in the salt to make your brine.

You may substitute fine sea salt instead of coarse kosher salt if you prefer. The measurement will remain the same for this recipe.

This recipe has been adapted from WECK Home Preserving with permission from Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

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