Artichoke Relish

Jerusalem artichokes are one of the few native American foods that remain unchanged through hybridization. Indigenous to the Lowcountry, they appear most often in pickles and relishes. I know Lowcountry cooks who still walk along roadsides and make notes of the flowers blooming, only to come dig up the tubers in the fall. Mary Clare Ulmer, from Four Holes Community, is one of the area’s great country cooks. She insists on artichokes from the wild, even though they are difficult to clean. Some people put the ‘chokes in their washing machines to clean them, but Mrs. Ulmer says, “I don’t want sand in my washing machine any more than I want it in my pickles.” Happily for all of us, the water chestnut-like tubers are now cultivated and are readily available, sand-free, in grocery stores across the country. Jerusalem artichokes are delicious raw in salads, roasted, and pureed in soups.

A plate of rice, a pork chop, and Sieva beans become a Lowcountry supper with the addition of a spoonful of this tart and crunchy relish.

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  • 1 cup pure salt
  • 1 gallon water
  • 2 pounds Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed and minced, ground, or thinly sliced
  • 2 cups minced or ground green and red bell peppers
  • 2 cups minced or ground onion
  • ¼ cup mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 quart white vinegar
  • cayenne pepper to taste (optional)


Mix the salt and water. Soak the vegetables in the brine for 24 hours.

The next day, drain the vegetables well, rinsing them briefly under cold running water. Squeeze out all the excess moisture. Sprinkle the mustard and turmeric over the vegetables and mix thoroughly. In a nonreactive pot, dissolve the sugar in the vinegar, bring to a boil, and pour over the vegetables. Fill sterilized jars, add a dash of cayenne to the jars if desired, seal, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.