Zucchini handling

Zucchini bagged

What to do with too many zucchini or summer squash is a recurring topic on gardening websites, blogs and forums. In the years when I have a zucchini glut (which is not a given, there were years when the striped cucumber beetle wipes out all the plants) I find myself looking for new recipes that use a lot of zucchini – we are talking baskets and baskets full.

Yellow crookneck in basket

Yet there is only that much zucchini relish you can eat and give to friends and family so I started freezing raw zucchini for cooking. As many recipes call for zucchini by the cupful, I freeze them that way.

It’s simple: Wash and halve the zucchini. There is no need to peel organically grown zucchini, the skin provides texture, color and all the nutrients. Scrape out the seeds with a grapefruit spoon and discard. Grate the zucchini in the food processor. Lightly oil a cup measure and pack it with zucchini. Unmold it on a large plate, tray or baking sheet lined with wax paper or parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the grated zucchini, placing the cups in a single layer on the plate. Put the plate on a level surface in the freezer until the zucchini are solidly frozen. Pack the cups in 1-gallon freezer bags. It is important to firmly pack the zucchini into the cups so they hold together. I fill the cup measure as much as I can, then press down on it with my fingers or the back of a soup spoon.

With this I have zucchini ready all winter long. We love zucchini pancakes. The Zucchini Cakes with Adobo spices from Just Putzing Around the Kitchen is a clear front-runner. Another favorite although more involved are the Turkey Zuccchini Burgers from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook.

Zucchini in frozen cups

I also wanted to try a new zucchini relish this year. I still like the family recipe my friend Alice gave me years ago but I have made it so many years in a row that it was time for a change.

Most recipes however contain so much sugar. I wanted something less sweet and with a bit of heat.

As usual, Linda Ziedrich’s comprehensive book The Joy of Pickling was my go-to. Unlike many of the newer titles, this is not a book that tries to pull you in with pretty photos. It’s all about but the recipes, and they are always spot-on. I liked that her zucchini relish uses less sugar but I did not have the required red bell peppers in the garden yet, only green peppers and jalapeños so I used those, and also swapped the celery seed for turmeric.

When I tasted the jalapeños though my mouth was on fire, even after I had already removed the seeds and membranes. A quick research on the Internet revealed that soaking them in ice water might take some of the heat out. And that did the trick! So I happily dumped the jalapeños into the vegetable mix.

In addition to the pleasantly hot and not overly sweet taste and the beautiful color, I like that I used only vegetables that I have in the garden right now. What I also like about this relish is that there is just enough liquid. I’ve tried recipes where I ended up having more liquid than solids in the jars.

So here is my adaptation of Linda’s recipe. I made a double batch right away. I have no more zucchini sitting on the kitchen counter. At least for today.

Zucchini relish

Zucchini Relish with Green Bell Peppers and Jalapeños

Adapted from The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich

4 cups (about 1¾ pounds) grated zucchini or summer squash, seeds removed and grated by hand or in the food processor

1½ cups (about 8 ounces) grated yellow onions

1 large green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

2 jalapeños peppers, stems, seeds and membranes removed (best to wear disposable gloves to do this)

1½ tablespoons pickling salt

¾ cup sugar

1¾ cups apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

3 to 4 thin slices peeled fresh ginger

3 to 4 (1-inch) cinnamon sticks

You also need:

A canning pot, or a very large stockpot

3 to 4 1-pint or 6 to 8 ½-pint canning jars with lids and new (unused) lids

  1. Mix the zucchini, onions, peppers and salt. Cover with cold water and a few ice cubes and let stand for 2 hours.
  2. Drain and rinse the vegetables, then drain again.
  3. In a large pot, bring the sugar, vinegar, turmeric and mustard seeds to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the vegetables and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile divide the ginger and cinnamon among sterilized canning jars placed on a damp kitchen towel (this prevents them from cracking). Fill the piping hot relish in the jars. Wipe the rim of the jars with a clean damp paper towel. Close the jars with brand new lids and bands immediately and process in boiling hot water bath for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the water onto damp kitchen towels and let sit for 24 hours. Store in a dark and cool place and let sit for at least 3 weeks before opening. Once opened, store the jars in the fridge.

Makes about 3 to 4 1-pint or 7 to 8 ½-pint jars

Photos by Ted Rosen


3 thoughts on “Zucchini handling

    1. Yes zucchini get can soggy so they are not suitable for dishes where you want some bite like stir-fry but I mainly use them for zucchini pancakes and squeeze them after defrosting and that is fine.

  1. That’s a pretty good idea of freezing the zucchini in this small sizes. I recognize the starting of the zucchini season because my boss is bringing heaps of them into our office 🙂

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