Zucchini, zucchini everywhere!

Who knew that a vegetable I hate so much would be the first thing I’d address on this blog?

Yes, I hate zucchini–and summer squash for that matter. I find them both bland and boring, and it is a trial to try to eat them. Unfortunately for me, I got left all by myself on the biggest week for zucchini this year. In one short week, the two monsters my mother planted in the vegetable garden spawned 10 giants. Some were literally as long as my arm. We had enough rapidly spoiling zucchini to feed an army…and the only one around to appreciate it was little old me.

I tried to make a dent in the harvest, really I did. I made four loaves of zucchini bread–the only worthwhile use of the stuff in my opinion–but I only managed to eliminate two of the ten. Times were looking desperate. Staring at all the squash covering my kitchen table, I wished there was some way to preserve it all for the rest of my family.

And then it dawned on me: pickles. Of course, there wasn’t near enough fridge space to make refrigerator pickles, so I learned how to do some basic canning. And you know what? It’s easy. It takes longer than 30 minutes, yes…but it’s not exactly brain surgery. And what did I get for all my trouble? 12 pint jars of zucchini dill pickles and 7 jars of sweet spiced zucchini pickles. Gorgeous.

Zucchini bread, sweet pickles, dill pickles

Zucchini bread, sweet spiced zucchini pickles, zucchini dill pickles

Sweet Spiced Zucchini Pickles

4 cups zucchini, cut into 1″ cubes
2 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2-4 cinnamon sticks
20-40 whole cloves

Wash the zucchini. Cut the ends off and remove the seeds, then cut the zucchini into 1″ cubes. Soak the zucchini cubes in ice water for two to four hours.

About 45 minutes before ready to begin canning, set a large pot of water on the stove to boil. At the same time, begin to sterilize the jars by placing them into a cold oven, bringing the heat to 350ºF, and baking the jars for 30 minutes or longer. Place the jar lids and rings into a pot of water. Bring the water to a boil and boil the lids for no less than 10 minutes. Bring the vinegar, sugar, cinnamon sticks and cloves to a boil and continue boiling for approximately 10 minutes. Place the zucchini in the hot jars, ladle the hot brine over the zucchini, make sure that a cinnamon stick gets into every jar, and immediately put the lid on.

When enough jars are lidded to begin the seal bath, place them in the large pot of boiling water. When the water begins to reboil, start timing. Boil the jars for 5-10 minutes (depending on jar size or whichever set of guidelines you decide to listen to). Remove the jars and set aside to cool. The pickles will be good to eat after about 1 week.

Zucchini Dill Pickles

2 pounds zucchini, cut into spears
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
1/4 cup kosher salt (or less…this can make notably salty pickles)
1 Tbs granulated sugar
1 Tbs mustard seed
4 garlic cloves, sliced thin (or more)
1 cup finely chopped dill leaves, large stems removed
(alternately, use 1/4 cup dill seed and much fewer leaves)

Wash the zucchini. Cut the ends off and remove the seeds, then cut the zucchini into spears. Soak the zucchini spears in ice water for two to four hours. Bring the vinegar, water, sugar, and mustard seed to a boil and continue boiling for approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the dill seed/heads (if using), cover, and let it stand for about 2 hours

About 45 minutes before ready to begin canning, set a large pot of water on the stove to boil. At the same time, begin to sterilize the jars by placing them into a cold oven, bringing the heat to 350ºF, and baking the jars for 30 minutes or longer. Place the jar lids and rings into a pot of water. Bring the water to a boil and boil the lids for no less than 10 minutes. Bring the brine to a boil and stir in the garlic and dill leaves. Place the zucchini spears in the hot jars, ladle the hot brine over the zucchini, and immediately put the lid on.

When enough jars are lidded to begin the seal bath, place them in the large pot of boiling water. When the water begins to reboil, start timing. Boil the jars for 5-10 minutes (depending on jar size or whichever set of guidelines you decide to listen to). Remove the jars and set aside to cool. The pickles will be good to eat after about 1 week.

8/4/08 Update: I’ve had an opportunity to try both pickles and they are amazing. The Spiced Sweet have a taste and texture pretty similar to baked apples. My father’s pronounced them the single best reason for planting zucchini. The dill variety are pretty good too…but I inadvertently used new cilantro instead of dill (hey, the two look very similar at one stage of cilantro’s life!), so the taste isn’t quite what I’d expected. Either way, these two recipes are going in The Book.

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21 Comments

Filed under Preserves, Vegan

21 responses to “Zucchini, zucchini everywhere!

  1. Are they good? We’re looking at a glut of zucchini soon and I really want to think that if I slice them up and make bread & butter sweet pickle zuch that I’m going to like it as much as I like the cucumber version.

  2. It’s not yet been a week since I’ve made them, so I have yet to try the finished product. However, I did set aside some ‘test cases’ in the fridge and tasted them yesterday. I like the results so far. The texture of the zucchini pickles isn’t much different from the cucumber. Slightly grainier, but the taste is largely the same as the cucumber variation I also fridge tested.

  3. Oh, zucchini! Talk about having way too much any given year. I only planted one plant of each this year, honest! And got an over abundance already. But ya know what I do with it other than can it? I shred and freeze it. It can be baked into zucchini bread, cakes and cookies and my favorite is fried potato and zuke patties in olive oil.

    For the patties (I have to give a guesstimation here because when I cook these it’s for a family of four and I have made it so often I don’t measure anymore) you need to shred equal amounts of zucchini and potatoes. About one medium squash to about two or three potatoes. Add 1/4 cup of ranch dressing, two eggs and about 1/2 cup of flour. Plus I use Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning to taste. I mix it with my hands (it will be a little soupy) and make it into balls which I flatten as I add them to the skillet of olive oil. Fry until golden brown. A variation is to add some grated onions or fresh garlic to the batch. And melted cheese on top. But they’re really good. We like them anyway, they’re like hash browns actually.

    The thing about zukes is they are bland and will take on the flavor of whatever you flavor them with. I made some really good zuccihini bread a couple days ago and froze some of it. If anyone is interested in the recipe? I also have one for chocolate zuccihini cake that’s good.

    Just adding some additional ideas for what to do with all the excess summer squash. And did you know the yellow squash can be interchanged with the green?

    But this year will be the first time I have made any sweet pickles with any. I’ve made the dill version and liked those. Wish me luck, but I planted cucumbers just in case too. LOL!

    Lindy

  4. Have you tried zucchini cheese scones? Just tried them for the first time, and it’s the best thing I’vemade with zucchini thus far. Recipe and picture at http://brightviolet.wordpress.com

  5. zucchini chews are a favorite at our house. You peel and core the zucchini and then slice it (so it resembles a sliced apple in size) then you soak them over night in juice )we use frozen concentrate that has been thawed by DON”T add the water to it) apple juice is our least favorite just because it isn’t that strong of a flavor. After they have soaked overnight, drain them and the put them in your dehydrator for about 5 hrs. They taste like candy!!!!

  6. Hunt

    Your pickle recipes don’t say how many jars! I made the dills but I didnt have near enough brine. Had to make some more but that brine didnt sit as long as the recipe says. Hope I don’t kill anyone. I want to make the spiced pickles. If it calls for 2-4 cinnamon sticks and each jar needs a stick, do I assume that I will need 2-4 jars of zucchini? Thanks for the help.

  7. In the headnotes, I said that my yield was 12 pints of the dill and 7 of the spiced.

    I made the spiced again this year by basically cubing up all the zucchini I had and raw packing into as many jars as it took. (14, I believe. It’s really, really, really hard to stir all that zucchini in a pot, so I endorse the raw pack method.) Then I doubled my recipe for the brine, made it up, poured it over the zucchini, and went on with the canning process using the Extension Program recommendation for raw pack vinegar pickles. It turned out beautifully.

    The original recipe doesn’t have you pack any spices with the pickles, but I got rave reviews on the spiciness when I do include them, so I’ve taken to including 1 cinnamon stick and 5-8 cloves in each jar. When I make the brine, I also steep a couple cinnamon sticks and about a tablespoon of cloves, too.

    Oooh, also…I no longer sterilize my jars using the oven. I never had a problem when I did use the oven, but I decided I’m better safe than sorry.

    • There is no possible way you can get 14 pints of pickles from 2 lbs of zucchini. BUT, you can get about 2 pints. Your recipe IS VERY GOOD. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Mmm, also, I think vinegar pickle recipes are very, very forgiving in terms of the brine not killing anyone. Usually vinegar pickle recipes are incredibly acidic…there’s no wee little buggers that will be living in it! In fact, I make pickled cherries and grapes with so much vinegar that I don’t even need to bother actually canning them.

  9. Whoops: one more thing. When I doubled my brine for the spiced zucchini and those 14 jars, I did have a good amount of brine left over (2 cups maybe?). I cubed up a honeydew melon and let it sit in the brine in the fridge and had incredible refrigerator pickles after a week or so. It was a big hit at a cookout later.

  10. kathy

    I made the spicy sweet..did not work true for me…4 cups of zucchini only made enough for 5 pint jars..I could have cut up more zuchs but they would have had to sit for another 2 hours? I only had enough brine for 1 and 1/2 jars..there is not enough liquid to bring up to the neck…no way this is right! I questioned it from the beginning but thought I would trust the recipe…big mistake..was going to make the dills as well but not now..I am looking for other recipes. Yours need some serious clarifications.

  11. When I made the spicy sweet last year, I only got about 5 pints out of 4 cups too. I think when I first made this I cut the zucchini a little larger than 1 inches…the size is really what’s going to dictate how much zucchini you can get in each jar.

    You do want to get as much zucchini as possible into the jars, if only because the more zucchini you can get, the less brine you use. This is enough brine for a good, tight pack. If you still need more brine, just increase the sugar and vinegar in proportion to the amount you’ll need. If you’re packing spices in the jars, you really don’t need to steep them in the brine beforehand–after a few weeks, the pickles will be plenty spicy and they’ll just keep getting spicier.

    Soaking the zucchini in ice water was something that I was told to do if I wanted crunchier pickles. You’re not going to get “crunchy” pickles from zucchini anyway–their texture’s just all wrong for that. I think the extra water helps extend the brine a little bit, but if you did want to try for increased crunchiness, I’d probably just rinse the cut zucchini, raw pack it, pour the brine over, and do a low-temperature pasteurization.

  12. kathy

    And you are certain there is not supposed to be any water added to this mix?

  13. Pingback: Preserves, Pickles, and Sauce, Oh My! « It's Not Easy Being Green

  14. Pingback: When the Pickles are Pickled « It's Not Easy Being Green

  15. Christine

    I tried making the dill pickles. I haven’t tasted them yet, but I know I didn’t get anywhere near the yield indicated even though I was packing them pretty tight. I was using quart jars, but if you convert over I got around 4 pint jars, and that was it. Oh, well. Either way, this recipe, zucchini plants that are far too enthusiastic, and about 15 quart jars I got for 25 cents apiece at a yard sale made my first experiment in canning and pickling a pretty pleasant one. Thanks!

  16. Lauren

    I made the sweet spiced zucchini pickles about a month ago and boiling water bath canned them. They all sealed nicely but I noticed that the brine has become a bit cloudy. Have you experienced this? I cracked open a jar and they smell nice and spicy but I’m afraid to try them.

    • Carrie

      Hey Lauren! Did you use canning salt? If you didn’t, that might be why your jars got cloudy. The pickles should be fine. Enjoy!!

  17. I think the cloudy brine is a normal. None of mine have every been crystal clear. The zucchini itself breaks down a bit and the little pieces cloud everything up.

  18. M. Hans

    Using iodized salt will leave your brine cloudy. Also, the time that you leave your pickles in a boiling water bath is critical, and Kerr and Ball Canning guidelines always say to follow the timing exactly. You may want to check with a nearby university extension office to see what the proper timing should be. Boiling for the “5-10 minutes” in the recipe may be dangerous if it is incorrect.

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