Monday, September 28, 2009

Zucchini Relish

Which could also be called "The best pickle relish you've ever had that has no cucumbers in it whatsoever!" or "An easy way to use up a lot of big zucchini fast." or "Gift back those zucchini your neighbors hid on your porch without them knowing they are getting zucchini!"
I do not even remember where I first heard mention of making zucchini relish, but it was on a website somewhere this year. "Huh, that's a great idea, if it works" was my first reaction. As everyone who lives in Wisconsin (or most other states) knows zucchini is something that grows really well and really abundantly here. Many people find themselves doing everything they can to just give away the extras. Cucumbers so too, but not with the same prolific zeal that zucchini does. My garden did not feel it right to supply me with EITHER of these items this year, but gratefully the farmer's market does!

We do not typically eat a lot of pickle relish, but after getting a few big zucchini from assorted people and then being able to buy about 6 bigger ones for only $1 at the farmer's market I figured I'd see if I could make some relish myself. (We already had lots of diced and shredded zucchini frozen for winter use.) Since cucumbers are like $2-$3 a pound it made sense to give the zucchini recipe a shot. And the recipe says its delicious and I'll never buy pickle relish in the store again, so it must be worth a shot!

I found the recipe that sounded the simplest with the fewest ingredients here. I liked the fact that I had gotten a bunch of red peppers from our freecycle connection, there were onions in the drawer and cheap zucchini to use. My biggest expense was getting spices (turmeric, celery seed, and dry mustard) but those weren't too bad and really it was just the turmeric that I wouldn't have normally had in my cupboard. The sugar, vinegar, corn starch and black pepper are pantry staples for us as well.

Basically you just grate up the zucchini, onions and red peppers. I used my Kitchen Aid attachment to do the zucchini (seeds, skins and all) and onions. It really wasn't too great with the onions, but I figured it didn't matter how smooshed they were as relish is more about flavor than anything else. I ended up using my little Cuisinart to do the red peppers as they were already in a large dice and I just needed to get them finer. These all get salted and put in the fridge overnight. Or for 2 days as was the case with my first batch!

The vegetable mix gets rinsed, drained, and put in a pot to combine with the other ingredients. This is where the spices, vinegar and sugar all get added.

Mix well and bring to a boil. This cooks for 30 minutes and does get a bit thicker thanks to the cornstarch. When stirring make sure you use a utensil that you do not mind getting stained. I used a wooden one (as I am doing more and more these days) and it is the prettiest yellow color up to the point that the mixture reached! I do not mind at all, but even my enameled cast iron took on a yellow hue for a while. The turmeric is strong stuff so be aware of any drips or where you put your spoon down. You could end up with stains on your counter tops as well.

Doesn't this look like it could be cucumber relish? Smells strong, but good while cooking!

The finished product after boiling and canning. I'm trying to remember, but I think I waterbathed the pints for about 20 minutes. I followed the suggestion that was on another recipe and figured that since this is so similar in texture I should be okay. The linked recipe does not specifically give a time for canning.

I've tried some of this on a sandwich and it was wonderful! I typically only use relish in chicken, egg or potato salad or occasionally on a hot dog. I have a feeling that the 12 pints I've put up will be used up though. The color is great, the flavor is awesome! I actually have a bit of store bought relish in the fridge and when comparing them I found the store bought one to be too uniform in size of chunks, too all one color as it is just pickles with a tiny bit of red something in it, and just too sweet smelling and tasting. This one is just more fun all the way around! And I think it would make a really nice looking gift as the colors and texture make the jar look very festive.

Next year I hope to get lots and lots and lots of zucchini and red pepper to be able to put up a bunch more of this! I originally just did the 6 pints, but when I got a few more zucchinis last week I knew what I'd be doing with those too :) I pulled red pepper out of the freezer and whipped up another batch right away.

Happy Canning!


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