Still have zucchini, even in the drought? You might want to try this relish recipe, in which zucchini takes the place of cucumber.
“Zucchini relishes are very popular among gardeners who never fail to grow too much of this squash or to let some fruits get monstrously huge, as they seem to do overnight,” writes Linda Ziedrich in the first edition of “The Joy of Pickling” (Harvard Common Press, $17.99). “My zucchini relish is quite sweet, though not nearly as sweet as most, and enhanced with ginger and cinnamon in addition to the usual celery and mustard seeds. Instead of chopping the vegetables, I grind them with an old-fashioned food grinder.”
To modify this recipe and make it even less sweet, use a teaspoon or two of ground cinnamon and ground ginger, to taste. Drop the sugar altogether and sweeten with a tablespoon or so of agave nectar, again to taste. Without the sugar, the relish won’t preserve, so you’ll have to eat it fresh (after letting it settle for a few hours in the refrigerator). That’s actually a plus for those of us who are too impatient to wait three weeks before the canned version is ready to eat.
Zucchini Pickle Relish
4 cups (about 1 3/4 pounds) coarsely ground or chopped zucchini
1 1/2 cups (about 1/2 pound) coarsely ground or chopped onions
1 1/2 cups coarsely ground or chopped red bell peppers or mixed red and green bell peppers (about 2 large or 3 to 4 small peppers)
1 1/2 tablespoons pickling salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups cider vinegar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
7 thin slices fresh ginger
7 (1-inch) cinnamon sticks
In a bowl, mix the zucchini, onions, peppers and salt. Cover the vegetables with cold water. Let stand 2 hours.
Drain and rinse the vegetables, and drain them again.
In a nonreactive pot, bring to a boil the sugar, vinegar, and celery and mustard seeds, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the vegetables, and bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat. Simmer the vegetables 10 minutes.
While the vegetables simmer, divide the ginger and cinnamon among sterile pint or half-pint mason jars, allotting one piece of each for each half-pint. Ladle the hot relish into the jars, allowing 1/4 inch headspace. Can according to directions on the canning lids.
Store in a cool, dark, dry place for at least 3 weeks before eating the relish.
Makes about 3 1/2 pints.
From “The Joy of Pickling” by Linda Ziedrich