A Bright Pickled Relish with a Low-Sodium Spin

Let’s talk a little about low-sodium pickles. It turns out that a lot of what our taste buds (and our hot dogs) expect is not just the salty lick of the brine, but the tangy kick of the acid. Which means, with the right ingredients and strong spices, you can make a low-sodium pickle (or relish!) that meets palate approval.

To kick up that “salty” factor, though, there’s one more trick you can use: Pick produce with a higher natural sodium content. Options could include beets (64 mg sodium for 1 beet), carrots (42 mg per medium carrot), cauliflower (32 mg per chopped cup, or 176 for a medium head), and celery (81 mg per chopped cup). When mixed with the other tastes of the brine — sweet, spicy and sour — they’ll create pickle nirvana and deliver a well-balanced bite (or dollop).

Start with this celery-based relish and then experiment with other spices and stars of the show. And while the relish will taste grand on burgers and sausage, it’s also worth mixing into your next potato or egg salad for tons of bright flavor — and no salt.

Pickled Celery Relish

Makes 2 cups


1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt-free curry powder (optional)

1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional)

1/4 large white onion, diced

4 celery stalks, washed and thinly sliced

1/2 cup shredded carrots (1 carrot)

1/4 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard seed

1/4 teaspoon ground yellow mustard

5 slices fresno or jalapeno pepper


In a medium saucepan, mix the apple cider vinegar, 1 cup water, orange juice and sugar until combined and the sugar has dissolved. Then bring to a boil for 3 minutes.

While the mixture is boiling, place the remaining ingredients in a pint-size jar or heat-safe container. Allow the pickling liquid to cool for 5 minutes and then pour the liquid into the jar or container. Wait until the liquid is completely cool and then cover and place in the refrigerator. The relish will stay good for a week.

Sodium Content: Apple cider vinegar: 0 mg, depending on brand; celery: 81 mg per cup (chopped) or 32 mg per medium stalk; carrots: 42 mg per medium carrot.

All sodium counts based on the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference release 26.

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Jessica Goldman Foung began the blog SodiumGirl.com to capture her adventures in a low-sodium life. She regularly writes about salt-free flavor tips and ingredient swaps. Her first cookbook was Sodium Girl’s Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook.

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