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Delia Smith's runner bean relish.


This relish is one of those very english affairs, that you  can become addicted to very quickly! It really only works with runner beans, so don't be tempted to try with french beans. Runner beans are ubiquitous in most English gardens in the summer, and there is nothing better than beans straight from the garden, but........  they can go on and on and become stringy and tough, so what is the answer, to follow Delia of course. What Delia says we all do and if she says its easy then its easy. She said this  recipe was given to her by a Suffolk lady, and I am sure that she must have been a vegetable gardener, I know one person who grows runner beans just to make  this relish. I like it with a good strong cheese, my husband in sandwiches, the boys eat it out of the jar and sneak it back to London when I'm not looking. So folks get your pens out and here we go.
This recipe is delicious but slightly fiddly and the smell of cooking vinegar is powerful so open the windows. Be brave and have a go, it  is well worth it and should last  you through the autumnal months, if it not all eaten before!
I was given the recipe by a friend who has put it in imperial measure.


Prep time
45 minutes
Cooking time
30 minutes
Total time
1 hour, 15 minutes


2 lb
raw runner beans (sliced)
5 1⁄2 lb
onions (chopped)
5 1⁄2 pt
malt vinegar
5 1⁄2 t
cornflour (heaped)
1 t
English mustard (powder)
1 T
turmeric (heaped)
8 oz
brown sugar (soft)
1 lb
demerera sugar


I use kilner jars with rubber seals for this recipe and sterilize them by putting them in the dishwasher on a very hot wash.


Simmer the onions in 10fl ozs  vinegar for 20 minutes till soft. Cook the beans for 5-6 minutes, drain add to the onions. Mix all dry ingredients with remaining vinegar (except sugar), simmer all together for 10 - 12 minutes, till slightly  thickened, add sugar and stir in and simmer for 15 minutes, spoon carefully into jars, leave to cool then seal down. Leave for 4 weeks for the flavours to mellow. Keep in the fridge when opened.

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