There is a small root in the south and Midwest that has always been very popular for making relish. The relish made from what appears to be a “knob” is also one of the biggest sellers in farmers markets - if you can find it. And, if you do, you’d better grab that jar quick because it will be sold faster than anything else in the market.
The Jerusalem artichoke is what I’m talking about, and in case you did not know, it has nothing to do with artichokes, but instead is a member of the sunflower family, which may be why we sometimes hear them called “sun chokes”.
Until a few days ago I had never eaten Jerusalem artichokes or anything made from them. And, then I went to a canning class given by Steve Dowdney, who learned canning from his grandmother at Rockland Plantation here in South Carolina. He has become famous nationwide for his relish, and in this area the relish sells faster than anything else at the local farmers market where a younger crowd buys it to mix into tuna fish salad.
I have to say that his recipe must be worth a fortune, because the relish is amazing, and Steve can’t keep it in stock. Not only is it good in tuna salad (I can attest to that), but it’s good in salmon salad, made into salmon croquettes, on fresh vegetables, on cream cheese with crackers, and almost everything that you could use pickles in.
From Steve Palmer Dowdney’s book, Putting Up, A Year-Round Guide to Canning in the Southern Tradition, published by Gibb Smith Publishers. Thanks to Steve Dowdney for allowing me to use his recipe. I’ve reduced the relish down to a half recipe, and modified the final method by adding the hot water bath. If you are not going to process the relish using safe canning guidelines, place it in the refrigerator after jarring.
The recipe makes 5 pint jars or about 8 half pints.
1/2 cup salt
1/2 gallon water
2 ½ pounds Jerusalem artichokes, cleaned and diced or chopped in processor
1 ¼ pounds onions, diced
10 ounces green bell pepper, diced
6 ounces red bell pepper, diced
1 ¼ tablespoons turmeric
¾ cup flour
3 cups of white vinegar (5 percent acidity) divided
1 ¾ pounds sugar
¼ cup mustard seed
1 ¼ tablespoons celery seed
Dissolve salt in water, add vegetables and soak for 24 hours, refrigerated. Rinse vegetables twice and allow to fully drain in colander.
Make a smooth, runny paste with the turmeric, flour and 1 ½ cups vinegar.
Put a non-reactive pot over medium-high heat with remaining vinegar. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the prepared paste and the mustard and celery seeds; mix well.
Mix in the vegetables, stirring often to prevent burning. As the temperature rises, the flour will begin to thicken and the mixture will darken. Maintain a low boil for 10 minutes after darkening.
Linda’s notes: Ladle the hot relish into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼ inch head space in the jar. Remove any air bubbles and with a sterilized cloth, clean the rims of the jars, if needed. Cover immediately with sterilized lids and follow the safe canning guidelines for processing the relish in a hot water bath, based on the altitude at your location (10 minutes at sea level). You can find these guidelines from the manufacturer of your jars or canning equipment, or you can contact your local extension service or the FDA for information on how to safely process the relish. If not processing then you must refrigerate right away.
**I am not the final word on canning so check with your local extension service on canning this relish based on your location.
Spring ephemerals are some of the first plants to flower in the early spring long before most trees leaf out. They tend not to like the heat and will quickly disappear if temperatures get above 80 degrees. Spring ephemerals leaf out, bloom, go to seed, spread themselves about and then enter dormancy; they don't really die. All this happens in a two-month period, making them some of the most efficient of the flowering plants. That is what makes these plants so very special.
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