After yesterday’s post where I mentioned the difficulty in finding sweet red pepper relish in local stores, I remembered that a few weeks ago I purchased a copy of Andrea Weigl’s “Pickles and Preserves” the newest in UNC Press’ Savor the South cookbook series. Sure enough, Andrea has a recipe for Sweet Pepper Relish on page 77. Her version is bright with the colors of the garden: red, orange, banana, and jalapeno peppers, along with the typical relish seasonings of onion, vinegar, sugar and salt. While summer would be an ideal time to whip up a batch, using some of those beautiful piles of peppers you find at the farmers market, you can find all the ingredients for this relish in stores right now.
But I know what you are thinking. “I don’t can food.” Or, “Isn’t that a lot of work?” One of the best things about this book may be that it has easy to use instructions on getting started putting up food and recipes for both the beginner and the seasoned canner. Many recipes work for freezer or refrigerator, without using water bath canning. though of course the best way to preserve longer term is with boiling water canning and instructions are included.
A few reasons to “put up” your own pickles and preserves (from Ms. Weigl and me)
- You will always have a gift to hand off to friends, family and hostesses.
- If you garden or belong to a CSA, you’ll have a way to preserve the bounty for later.
- Pickles and preserves come in handy for the unexpected guest or impromptu party.
- Canning is thrifty.
- Canning assures you that you know what’s going into your food.
When I saw Ms. Weigl speak a few weeks ago at the CHOP NC monthly gathering. A couple of things stayed with me: while she is a professional writer (Mouthful blog, News and Observer food writer) she’s relatively new to canning not having grown up as many of us have with canning passed down generation to generation; She approaches canning with fresh eyes, appreciation for the craft and the latest science; And, get this, Andrea wrote this book, researching, testing recipes, and writing with a baby under a year old.
This profile fits right in with current generation of people learning home canning: younger, urban, interested in food. With the book as a guide, I’m pretty confident that you are going to be able to make some relish to use in the red bean salad, to top some burgers or to mix with sour cream or cream cheese for a dip. Don’t miss Jean Anderson’s recipe for Yellow Squash Pickles (p. 57) to use up the bounty of summer squash. Or for more advanced jelly making, try out the honeysuckle refrigerator jam recipe – the brief honeysuckle blossom season is just around the corner.