Yup, it’s zucchini season. We anticipate the first few baby zucchini, sliced and sauteed with garlic. Then the season hits and we’re foisting the ubiquitous green veggie at all visitors, giving them as “gifts” – anything to lighten the load.
Plant fewer plants, you say!? Why, no, that doesn’t work – if we plant just a couple zucchini plants, then miraculously the crop fails and we don’t have enough. You can’t win this game.
But what you can do, is make zucchini pickle relish. Here’s how. (The recipe is in full at the bottom of the post.)
Selecting the zukes: you can use up the baseball bats that grew overnight or hid from you for a week, but the little guys work well, too. Just make sure they’re sound (no soft or yellow spots), and cut or scrape away the seed cavity if the veg has started developing seed. The seeds are unpleasant in the relish, as is the spongy-textured seed cavity. That, and the blossom ends and tips all go straight into the compost bucket.
If you find you need to hold the zucchini until the next day to prepare the relish – maybe you’ve run out of time or energy the day you’ve harvested them – place them in a basket or a bowl at room temperature and lay a wet dishcloth over them to keep them moist. They’ll keep to the next day without a problem.
Zucchini is the obvious ingredient here, but you can bring cucumbers and other things into the mix. I usually add in a mix of peppers – yellow and sweet red are particularly nice – some onion, and whatever cucumbers I might need to pickle up. Again, remove the seeds from these guys, too.
For seasoning, I prefer using whole allspice to ground, and will also use whole dill seed. I typically use either kosher salt or canning salt – often sea salt has impurities in it that make your relish a little cloudy.
For canning, I use pint canning jars with new lids, and re-use the rings from year to year. Follow the instructions for water-bath canning in for your elevation. We’re nearly at sea level, so 15 minutes at a rolling boil works great for us. You’re not cooking the relish in the jars, just getting a good seal.
I think, and others have confirmed for me, that this relish tastes like Nalley’s Sweet Pickle Relish – we like it a lot, especially on summer hot dogs. (And in tartar sauce. And in potato salad . . . .)
Give it a try – then let me know how you like it. Enjoy!
Zucchini Pickle Relish
– makes 8 pints
3 green peppers, cored, seeded, and minced
3 medium yellow onions, peeled and minced
4 medium cucumbers, seeded if necessary and minced
3 stalks celery, minced
8 cups minced zucchini, with skin
1 tbsp. mustard seed (brown preferred)
2 tsp. whole allspice
1 tsp. whole dill seed
1 cup white sugar
1 cup white vinegar
4 tbsp. cornstarch blended with 4 tbsp. cold water
Combine all ingredients except the cornstarch-water mixture in a large, heavy pan and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and take the pot off the heat.
Ladle into clean pint canning jars, leaving 1 inch of head space. Remove bubbles with a plastic spatula or wooden chopstick. Wipe the rims, adjust the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, timed from when the water returns to a rolling boil after placing the filled jars into the water. Let cool completely in a draft-free spot before checking the seals and storing. Refrigerate any jars that do not seal; use them within one month.