Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Pickles

August 28, 2011

My mom taught me how to can.  In fact, she was full of useful instruction when I was a kid including: how to make my bed (hospital corners), the art of the thank you letter, and the ever-so-wise tip: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” (I seem to have forgotten this last one recently and so I am resurrecting it as my new mantra- I think it will serve me well.)  Though I do still try to do my best with thank you letters, I admit to having given up on the tightly made bed (duvees are the way to go!)  The canning skills I learned from her though,  are still extremely relevant and useful.  I took it for granted growing up that the pantry was always full of a variety of delicious jams.  It was not until I was older that I realized how few people my age knew about this practical art.  Gratefully, the art of preservation is experiencing a resurgence.  Just look at the popularity of sites such as Punk Domestics and Food in Jars.

My first canning projects were jams: apricot , raspberry, blueberry.  My mom showed me how to carefully sort the fruit, meticulously wash the jars, fill them leaving just the right amount of head-space, and secure them with clean lids and bands.  It was a fun activity to share and I of course loved to taste the fruits of our labors.  Over the years, I branched out in quantity (such as the 200 jars I made for our wedding favors out of our 20 square foot college kitchen) and variety by adding in pickles and relish, as well as applesauce and curds.This recipe is not one of my childhood.  It has become a family favorite none-the-less, born out of necessity as my parents’ garden expanded and they learned that three of four zucchini plants really are extreme plenty for a two-person household.

Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Pickles is the recipe that makes me yearn for our zucchini plants to over-produce.  No matter how many jars I make each year, it is never enough.  By February or March, I find myself rationing them so that we have enough to last until the next harvest.  Sweet, tangy, and crunchy with just a little bit of spice.  These are a staple on our weekend lunch table.  They are great on sandwiches or on their own.

What tips did your mother teach you that you still put to use?

Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Pickles

makes 8 cups (4 pints)

adapted from Mom (who found the recipe in Martha Stewart Living)

2 pounds zucchini

1 medium onion (8 ounce)

2 heaping tablespoons coarse salt

2 cups ice cubes

1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cup white vinegar

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon whole mustard seed

3/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Sterilize the jars for your pickles by submerging them in boiling water for 10 minutes.

Slice zucchini 1/8 inch thick.  (I like to use my mandoline for this to make it uniform, but a knife will work as well.)  Halve the onions and slice thinly as well.  Place zucchini in a large bowl.  Toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt and 1 1/2 cups of ice.  In a separate bowl, toss onion with the remaining salt and then again with the remaining ice.  Refrigerate for 3 hours.

Separately drain zucchini and onion.  Rinse and drain again.

Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil.  Add the onion and return to a boil.  Add the zucchini and remove from heat.

Ladle zucchini and onions into hot, sterile jars.  Bring liquid to a boil again and fill the jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Top with a new lid and band. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes for half-pint jars and 15 minutes for pints.  See Home Canning Basics for more information about the canning process.

*You may also store these pickles in the refrigerator if you choose not to process them.

Here is a printer-friendly version of the recipe: Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Pickles

You may also like:

Grilled Corn Relish

Green and Brown Zucchini

Pickled Asparagus

Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Pickles on Punk Domestics
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18 Responses to “Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Pickles”

  1. Janice Says:

    You are just the sweetest daughter. Thank you for the nod but I have learned even more from you! (We end up rationing the pickles every year too.)

  2. amy zimmer Says:

    Looks amazing! I’m on it this afternoon! A

  3. Marilyn Foster Says:

    I am a third generation berry picker. When my sister and I got tired of picking yet another gallon of cranberries or raspberries, mom always said, “Remember when we ran out of jam last year? You can never pick too many berries.” And she was right!


  4. Karen,

    You are such a fantastic writer! I love the way you stir family, tradition, and food together – it is a recipe for nostalgia!

    These pickles are also an ingenious way to use up zucchini!

    Thank you for sharing!


  5. P.S. I just got a huge load from Singing Frogs Farm so I can spend all day Friday making these. However, I also got a huge load of apples. Need any apples? I just may have too many pots boiling at once with all this!


  6. I am going to try this recipe RIGHT NOW

  7. Michelle Says:

    Karen, these are amazing – thank you, thank you! No need to hide from my zucchini growing friends in August any longer.

  8. Lana in MI Says:

    I really look forward to trying this recipe out this year! We LOVE Zucchini here so I know this will be a big hit! THANK YOU for such a great step by step! Appreciated!!! Lana in MI (and the Half Acre Farm)

  9. jeff Says:

    I just tried making these last night for my first attempt at canning ever! Quick questions: how long before they’re ready to eat? I’ve seen some recipes that say to store for a few weeks before opening. I don’t want to wait that long!


    • Great to hear you completed your first canning mission, Jeff! You can eat the pickles as soon as you like. They become more flavorful over time. If you made a few jars, I wouldn’t hesitate to break one open in the next few days and allow the rest to sit and pickle!
      Let us know how they turned out!

      Karen

  10. Debbie Says:

    We have our first crop of zucchini growing this year. I want to learn how to can food and thought this would be a good place to start. I can’t wait to make the zucchini pickles with my daughters. Thank you so much for sharing.

  11. cheryl strabala Says:

    I do not have a scales, so how much is 2 pounds Can anybody help me recipe The recipe sounds super,

  12. Diane Buhr Says:

    Made these with yellow squash and sweet onion, so good! thanks!


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