Classic Zucchini

My mom tried every way she could think of to feed us zucchini. I still rely on her classic and newer recipes. Get zucchini recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
As I was growing up, my mom tried every way she could think of to feed us zucchini. My dad always planted several hills, plus a couple extra in case one failed, and Mom found endless ways to sneak it into dishes once the crop started coming in. Chocolate zucchini cake was her favorite way to disguise the squash: the texture gave it away, but that didn’t stop us from reaching for a slice. She also processed it as pickles, relish, and even salsa.

My favorite way to save zucchini today is grated and frozen for pancakes and quick bread. But if you’re short on freezer space, pickled zucchini becomes far more attractive. The year before I was born, my great-aunt Verle gave my mom a classic zucchini relish recipe that Mom made for decades. She claims we liked it even better than Cucumber Relish. Zuke relish doesn’t stand out in my memories, but I loved relish as a kid, so I must have been eating a lot of these jars. It’s stood the test of time; my great-aunt’s original recipe required only minor tweaks to match today’s safe-canning standards.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 4 main ingredients plus some spices and kitchen staples.
1. Shred and sweat the vegetables.
2. Cook up all ingredients.
3. Fill and water bath the jars.

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Zucchini Relish

  • Servings: 7 half-pint jars
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
1-3/4 pounds zucchini (about 4 cups when shredded)
3/4 pound onion (about 1-1/2 cups when shredded)
1-1/2 tablespoons pickling salt
8 ounces green bell pepper (about 1 cup when chopped)
4 ounces red bell pepper (about 1/2 cup when chopped)
1 small chili, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili)
3/4 cup sugar
1-3/4 cups apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Shred the zucchini and onion; add them to a large bowl with the salt, stir, and then let the mixture sit overnight in the refrigerator. Rinse and drain the vegetables thoroughly, squeezing out as much water as possible. Chop the peppers.

Add the vegetables to a wide, 6- to 8-quart pot, along with all remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer slowly for 15 minutes, until slightly thickened. Return the mixture to a boil.

Ladle into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, plus your altitude adjustment. Makes about 7 half-pints.

Tips & Tricks
  • My great-aunt’s original recipe called for ground vegetables. I imagine she used an old-fashioned meat grinder—and probably was in tears by the time she finished the onions. I still like the finer texture, so I typically shred and chop in a food processor. A large-holed cheese grater also works well, or you can dice by hand for a chunkier mix.
  • My dad grew both green zucchini and yellow summer squash; I think we just called both zucchini and used them interchangeably in everything. The National Center for Home Food Preservation agrees: use all zucchini, all summer squash, or both. It also approves the use of any variety of onion.
  • As with other relishes, I prefer portions in half-pint jars for my two-person household. But my great-aunt and mom always put double batches in pints. The NCHFP says pints or half-pints of summer squash relish need the same processing time; just be sure to add your altitude adjustment.
  • I prefer weights for canning recipes so that I know how much to bring in from the garden. But it’s easy to end up with more than 3/4 pound of zucchini in one harvest. Extra squash and onion can be set aside for refrigerator pickles (see below), which are easy to prep while you’re waiting for the relish jars to seal.


My mom tried every way she could think of to feed us zucchini. I still rely on her classic and newer recipes. Get zucchini recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.

Twice as Tasty

My mom tried every way she could think of to feed us zucchini. I still rely on her classic and newer recipes. Get zucchini recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.Although my mom made zucchini pickles, I really only liked cucumber ones as a kid. But several years ago I fell in love with Liana Krissoff’s Hot Cumin-Pickled Summer Squash recipe in Canning for a New Generation. One year, when I had extra brine from Better Bread-and-Butter Pickles, I filled a couple of jars with zucchini and summer squash for the refrigerator and decided pickled zukes have grown on me.

Because squash pickles tend to be softer than cucumber ones, I skip the heat treatment and refrigerate a couple of jars at the beginning of the zuke season. They are ready to eat in a couple of weeks and keep until classic processed and fermented cuke pickles have properly cured to their best flavor. The fresh aromatics distinguish them from processed cucumber bread-and-butters.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 3 main ingredients plus a bunch of spices and some kitchen staples.
1. Make your brine.
2. Slice your vegetables.
3. Fill a jar.

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Bread-and-Butter Zucchini Refrigerator Pickles

  • Servings: 1 quart jar
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon canning salt
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1-1/4 pound small zucchini
2 ounces onion (about 1/4 cup when thinly sliced)
2 cloves garlic
2 thin rounds horseradish root
2 thin rounds ginger
1 red chili

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, honey, and spices. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Cut the zucchini into 1/4-inch slices, and combine it in a bowl with the onion. Add the garlic, horseradish rounds, ginger, and chili to the bottom of a quart jar, and then pack in the zucchini and onions, leaving at least 1/2-inch headspace. Pour or ladle the vinegar mixture over the vegetables, ensuring the liquid covers the vegetables and you still have 1/2-inch headspace. Screw on a used canning lid and ring, and put the jar in the refrigerator. Let sit 2 weeks before eating, and then use within 3 months. Makes about 1 quart jar.

Tips & Tricks
  • These pickles are not heat-processed, so you don’t need to create a seal by using a new canning jar lid. You do need to keep them in the fridge; they are not shelf safe.
  • The cold temperature and vinegar preserve the zucchini, but they won’t keep as long as cucumber bread-and-butterspasteurized bread and butters. You can eat them within 24 hours, but they’ll taste best if eaten 2 weeks to 3 months out.
  • Finding small squash at the grocery store may be a challenge. If each squash is at least 8 ounces, you might only fit about 1 pound of rounds into a wide-mouth quart jar.
  • I like to make these pickles and Cumin-Spiced Zucchini Refrigerator Pickles while I’m making Zucchini Relish. If you have a well-stocked pantry, it’s easy to grab a little extra zucchini and onion from the garden and pop them into a jar while your canner is boiling away. By the time you lift out the jars, you’ve done one prep for two treats.

Want to play with more variations? Twice as Tasty is teaching these techniques in a workshop held in your own kitchen, among friends—and with my personal help. Click here to learn more.

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