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
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