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
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.
Learn to make Zucchini Relish and Bread-and-Butter Zucchini Refrigerator Pickles


Classic Pickles

I’ve learned many tricks for keeping classic cucumber pickles crisp—and to set aside extra cukes for relish. Get pickling recipes at
Dill pickles fit the “classic” category on so many levels. They have a long history among home canners, and in my home in particular. While my mom boiled vinegar brine and tended the canning kettle, my sister and I were given the job of packing whole cucumbers into quart jars because we had small hands. Weeks later, I’d start pulling jars from the packed shelves to munch on the crisp, sour vegetables.

Since I first learned to can pickles, I’ve found many tricks for keeping cucumbers crisp throughout the heated processing that lets you store them on shelves at room temperature. My mom always added grape leaves from our homegrown vines, harnessing their tannins to help keep the cukes crisp; I found horseradish leaves have the same effect. I’ve also started pasteurizing the jars instead of dropping them into a boiling water bath. Pasteurizing takes a little more time at my altitude, but the lower temperature still gives a crunchier pickle. Set aside any cucumbers that are blemished or won’t squeeze into the jars for relish.
Learn to make Processed Cucumber Dill Pickles and Cucumber Relish

Canning Classics

I’m turning back the clock to classic canning recipes and my first steps in improving upon them. Learn more at
In looking back over the last 3 years of Twice as Tasty recipes, I realized there’s a gap in my story of home canning and other adventures in the kitchen. A lot of people have been asking for this story lately, usually phrased as “How did you get started making all of this?” I respond with my childhood food memories: gardening with my dad, canning with my mom, baking with my grandma, berry picking with my sister.

I’ve shared a few family recipes on the blog, but with canning in particular I’ve skipped over the recipes that got me hooked on home-canned food, jumping straight to those I love today. These newer recipes tend to be more complex in flavor and sometimes technique than the jars that filled my childhood and first adult canning cupboards. They’re worth every minute of extra effort. But this month I’ll turn back the clock to some classic flavors and my first steps in improving upon them.
Read more about classic canning recipes

Red Onion

Once you master how to grow and keep onions, onion marmalade and relish take a little effort but store well. Get savory spread recipes at

Onions have been an unexpected challenge to grow and to keep. They appear easy: just pop them in the ground, watch them grow, pull them out, let them dry a bit, and shove them in a box. But appearances can be deceiving. Onion growth is linked not just to temperature but also to daylength—two factors that run to extremes in northwest Montana. I spent years buying ubiquitous onion sets and harvesting tiny bulbs that bolted easily before realizing that they would never reach full size before days grew too short, temperatures became too cool, and the growing season ended. The solution? Buy transplants.

Suddenly, the onion crop was huge. But this presented another problem: how to store them. Onions are traditional dry-storage vegetables and can handle a range of temps, from just above freezing to 50°F. The main issue is humidity: unless they’re in a dry space with only 60%–70% humidity, they’ll quickly soften and rot. My little cabin with its unheated mudroom has few such spaces. I grill and freeze many of my onions, but on big years I’m still left with many pounds to try to keep through winter. Savory spreads, such as marmalade and relish, take a little more effort but store well.

Apple–Red Onion Marmalade

  • Servings: 7 half-pint jars
  • Difficulty: 3
  • Print
1-1/2 pounds red onions, including papery skins
1-1/2 lemons
6 pounds underripe or tart apples
3 1-inch cinnamon sticks
4-1/2 cups water
3-3/4 cups apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
4-1/2 cups granulated sugar

Pull the papery skins from the onions, setting them aside; remove and compost the root ends. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, thinly slice the onions, setting aside enough of the thinnest to equal 1 cup. Zest the lemon, adding the zest to the pile of sliced onions. Chop the remaining onions, onion peels, lemon, and apples, retaining the apple peels, cores, and seeds, and add them into a wide, 6-quart or larger pot. Drop in the cinnamon sticks, pour in the water and vinegar, and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium high, and cover loosely. Cook for about 30 minutes, until the apples break down and their peels separate from the pulp. Stir as needed to prevent burning.

Strain the juice as you would for Sweet Pepper Jelly: Set a fine-mesh or cheesecloth-lined colander over a large bowl, pour in the hot mixture, and let the juice drain for at least 30 minutes; stir occasionally, but don’t press down on the pulp. Set the colander on a plate and measure out the juice; you should have about 6 cups. If you come up short, return the colander to the bowl, stir in some hot water, and let the solids drain until you have the desired amount of liquid.

Clean the pot and add the juice and sugar; stir in the onion slices and lemon zest. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, or until the marmalade sets when you test it.

Ladle into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes, plus your altitude adjustment. Makes about 7 half-pint jars.

Tips & Tricks
  • Although you could use other onions, red ones produce the most colorful marmalade. The onion skins give even more color, so use as many as you can—including those from red onions you might be peeling for another recipe (see below).
  • A zester that cuts citrus peel into long, thin strips matches the shape of thinly sliced onions. You can use a grater-style zester instead, but expect to see and taste flecks of peel.
  • If you’re growing apples, pick the ones you need for this and other jamming recipes, like Tomato–Apple–Basil Jam, before the first frost sweetens them; they’ll release more pectin into the mix. If you’re buying apples, choose tart ones, like Granny Smiths.
  • Unlike dense marmalades such as Fall Marmalade and Rhubarb–Orange–Ginger Marmalade, this recipe produces a jelly-clear marmalade with suspended solids. To ensure it sets, bring the mixture to 8°F above the boiling point of water at your altitude.

Once you master how to grow and keep onions, onion marmalade and relish take a little effort but store well. Get savory spread recipes at

Twice as Tasty

Relish seems synonymous with hotdogs, hamburgers, and other meats, so it may surprise you to find it in my pantry. But this versatile spread is a cousin to chutney and often includes enough sugar to make it a distant relative of savory jams. If you’re trying to foster a love of pickles in family members, relishes can be a good place to start. Those who argue they don’t like relish have probably only ever eaten sugary cucumber relish and have no idea of the other flavors the condiment can hold.

Relish truly is a condiment, unlike pickles that can be laid on sandwiches or popped unadorned into your mouth. But that just expands its uses. Of course, it’s delicious spread on sandwiches or Black Bean Veggie Burgers and served on a party platter with freshly made cheeses and pita. But it’s also tasty alongside Sourdough Empanadas, mixed with Fresh Yogurt as a dip, and pureed and thinned with a little water to use as a glaze or dipping sauce for skewers of Pan-Fried Tofu or as a salad dressing for Basic Potato Salad.

Grilled Red Onion Relish

  • Servings: 7 half-pint jars
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
6 pounds red onions
2 red bell peppers
5 cups apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons pickling or kosher salt
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seed
4 teaspoons coriander seed, crushed
2–3 dried chilies, minced
4 whole peppercorns, crushed

Peel the onions, reserving the skins for Apple–Red Onion Marmalade. Cut off the onion root ends and deseed the peppers, and then grill the onions and peppers. Let the vegetables cool enough to handle, and then dice; set aside. Combine all remaining ingredients in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Add the onion and pepper, return to a boil, and simmer for 30–40 minutes, until the onions are translucent but still have a firm texture. Remove from the heat.

Ladle into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace and trying to distribute the solids and any liquid evenly among the jars. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, plus your altitude adjustment. Makes about 7 half-pint jars.

Tips & Tricks
  • You can simply dice raw onion and pepper for this recipe, but grilling before preserving adds such a flavor boost it’s worth the time.
  • You can also skip the boiling water bath for this or any other savory spread designed for canning and simply store the jars in the fridge. If you’re giving them as refrigerated gifts, be sure write a note or add a gift tag that lets your lucky recipients know the jar is not shelf stable.
  • Lightly crushing the whole spices makes them easier to eat while maximizing flavor, and whole mustard seeds will soften yet pop in your mouth after the jars sit a couple of weeks. For a smoother relish with a lighter flavor, gather all of the whole spices into a spice bag and remove the bag from the relish just before processing.

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Tried & True

These tools and supplies may help you make the recipes in this post:

  • This zester makes thin strips that hold their shape well through the canning process. They also look pretty in cocktails.
  • A digital thermometer that registers a high maximum temperature easily checks that your hot, gooey marmalade will set when cool. A dial thermometer can also work; just be sure it tops out somewhere above 212°F.
  • Your marmalade will splatter as it cooks down. Stirring often is the most helpful, but if you have to step away for a moment or find the stirring can’t keep pace with the popping bubbles, slap on a splatter shield like this one.

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