In my post on making dill pickles, I waxed rhapsodic about my current favorite book about canning and preserving, Ashley English’s beautiful Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Chutneys & More. So I figured I really should do a full-blown review. Ashley was gracious enough to grant me permission to excerpt her simple and delicious sweet pickle recipe as well — so thank you, Ashley!
First, the book: I have to confess that I ordered this book from Amazon because I love the design of the cover. Just looking at this book makes me happy, really. And the cover reveals just a hint at what awaits once you open the book. It is well-designed, both clean and modern and homespun looking at the same time — trust me, that makes perfect sense once you start leafing through the book! It is well written, and English’s encouraging tone shines through. The recipes aren’t overly complex, and there’s a good mix of recipes in the book for everything from jams and jellies to pickles and canned tomatoes. A few of my favorites are the basic pickling brine (which can be used to pickle just about any veggie you like), apple butter, tomato basil sauce, peach and lavender butter (!) and the sweet pickle relish, which you’ll find below. It’s a great first book for a beginning preserver — highly recommended!
As I mentioned, Ashley English was kind enough to let me post her sweet pickle relish recipe here. As she mentions in the book, adding a bit of this relish to your potato salad will take it to an entirely different level, and it’s not half bad on a grilled Polish sausage, either.
Ashley English’s Sweet Pickle Relish (excerpted with permission from the author)
Yield: 6 half-pints of relish
6 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 1/2 cups sweet onion, diced
1 cup green pepper, diced
1 cup sweet red pepper, diced
1/4 cup pickling or kosher salt
3 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons yellow mustard seed
1 1/2 tablespoons celery seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
1. Combine the cucumbers, sweet onion, green and red peppers, and salt in a large bowl. Toss to combine, cover with a kitchen towel, and let stand in a cool area overnight or for at least four hours.
2. Drain and rinse the vegetable in a colander. Rinse several times, pressing vegetables with the back of a wooden spoon to remove all liquid and salty residue. Set aside.
3. Sterilize 6 half-pint jars, lids, and screw rings.
4. In a medium stainless-steel saucepan, combine the sugar, vinegar, mustard seed, celery seed, and turmeric. Add the vegetables, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Pack relish into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Use a nonmetallic spatula to remove any trapped air bubbles, and wipe the rims clean with a damp cloth. Place on lids and screw bands., tightening only until fingertip-tight.
6. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Remember to adjust for altitude.
About the Author: Ashley English has earned degrees in both holistic nutrition and sociology. Life has provided her with numerous career paths, including working as a medical assistant and nutritional consultant, manager of a bed and breakfast, wine and beer sales rep, and baker and caterer. Additionally, she has worked over the years with a number of non-profit organizations committed to social and agricultural issues and she is currently a member of Slow Food USA. Ashley and her husband live in Candler, NC, with their menagerie of chickens, dogs, cats, and bees, where they are converting their land into a thriving homestead. Ashley also writes a weekly column “Small Measures with Ashley” on the popular design blog, Design Sponge. You can also find her detailing her homesteading adventures on her blog, small measure.
Necessary Disclaimer Nonsense: I purchased this book with my own money and the opinions of this review are my own. I would have given a good review whether Ms. English had given permission to excerpt her relish recipe or not