Baby tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Canning Cookbook- Who planted 10 zucchini anyway?

Ahhhhh zucchini, that wondrous crazy vegetable that goes from blossom to BLIMP in 24 hours. We all at one point in our lives, as a cook or gardener, have had a love/hate relationship with it. We love the tender baby zucs we can halve or quarter and throw on the grill, and we love the big monster zucs that we shred and make delicious baked goods from, while at the same time we absolutely loathe dealing with those big monsters, and zucchini overload when the office master gardener shows up with yet another big bag full to share. This just might be ME this summer, since I got the wise idea to plant ten, yes ten, zucchini in the garden- and it's just The Chef and I at home. We do, after all, love fresh zucchini, and we hate to waste perfectly good food.

By the time summer is nearing the end, even though those plants are STILL producing, most of us are pretty tired of trying to use the crazy things in dinner night after night. Zucchini bread and cakes and muffins fill the freezer. What else can you do? Make relish!!

When it comes to canning recipes, everything BUT pickle relish is something I want to make. I already make pickles, I don't want to do pickle relish too. I like trying different vegetables in relishes though, like radish relish, corn relish, and a carrot relish I'm trying to figure out. It's just natural to me that zucchini should fit the bill in relish recipes. It has a mild flavor on it's own, much like cucumbers do, and should meld well with relish flavors. Almost every canning cookbook has a zucchini relish of some kind. Do a little research and reading and you will find one with the right blend of flavors for you. I tend to like "peppery" and hot spicy foods and make relishes and sauces that reflect that. This time, however, I think I'll go with a dill relish and see how that turns out. So let's get busy with Summer Zucchini Relish.

You will need:

12 cups finely chopped UNPEELED zucchini
4 cups finely chopped onion
2 finely chopped bell peppers, one green, the other red or orange
4 tb canning or kosher salt

Combine all vegetables in large mixing bowl, sprinkle with salt, toss to mix. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, rinse and drain thoroughly.

In a large stock pot combine:

  • 2 1/2 cups vinegar (I prefer apple cider but white is ok- 5% acidity)
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 tsp celery seed
  • 2 tb mustard seed (I use one each of yellow and brown)
  • 2 tb dill seed
  • 2 tb dried dill weed or 4-5 tb fresh
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Bring ingredients to boil. Add vegetables and simmer for 15 minutes. 

Pack hot mixture into prepared pint or half-pint jars with 1/2" headspace. Adjust lids and rings. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove and allow jars to cool, check seals.

Because this is a pickled product, you will want to let it mellow and let the flavors meld. You can also switch out yellow summer squash for some or all of the zucchini if that's what you have an abundance of. 

Recipes like this always look so pretty in the jars, and I can't wait to enter them in the county fairs. Sometimes that unusual relish combination gives you an edge over the same old relish recipes that have been entered for decades. I hope you will give this recipe a try- I'm sure you will love it.

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