Whether you’re serving it on top of a juicy burger or using it as a dipping sauce for crispy chicken tenders, this tangy relish is sure to please. And the best part? It’s incredibly easy to make at home.
All you need is a few simple ingredients and a bit of time. Homemade zucchini relish is also a great way to use up an abundance of summer squash from your garden.
It’s easy to make and tastes great on burgers, hot dogs, or just about anything else! Plus, it’s a great way to get your family eating more vegetables.
So if you find yourself with more zucchinis than you know what to do with, don’t hesitate to give this recipe a try.
Why Not Just Can the Zucchini Instead of Making Relish?
Zucchini is a versatile summer squash that can be eaten raw, cooked, or pickled. However, it cannot be safely canned due to its low acidity.
When zucchini is canned in an oxygen-free environment, the lack of acidity creates the perfect conditions for bacteria to grow.
As a result, canned zucchini has the potential to cause food poisoning. To avoid this risk, zucchini must be frozen, pickled, or fermented instead. These methods all help to preserve the zucchini while also preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.
You might be wondering, “why can’t I just process my zucchini in a pressure canner”? After all, the pressure canner is the preferred food preservation method for most low-acid vegetables like zucchini.
The problem is that zucchini has a high water content and is extremely soft. When processed for any period of time in a pressure canner, it becomes mushy and soft.
There is also the possibility for the jars to not heat evenly throughout, leading to an unsafe finished product.
That’s why canning zucchini relish – which increases the acidity of the finished product to safe levels – is always going to be the way to go!
Zucchini Relish Recipe
Here’s a simple recipe you can follow to make your own zucchini relish!
Zucchini Relish Recipe
- 10 cups shredded zucchini
- 2 cups diced onions
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 3 tbsp canning salt
- 1 ½ tbsp celery seed
- ¾ tbsp turmeric
- 3 cups sugar
- 2 ½ cups white vinegar
- Shred the ZucchiniThe first thing you have to do is shred the zucchini. You can do that manually with a grater, as I do, or you could try a food processor. I’m sure a food processor would be easier, but I don’t have one at my disposal!Now is also a good time to dice or shred the onions and bell peppers (either method is fine). Get it all in a container. Cover with a thin sprinkling of salt. Let it rest overnight to help draw out some of the moisture, then strain in a colander. You’ll be amazed at how much water comes out!
- Combine and Cook the IngredientsNow comes the easy part! Put all of the ingredients together in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and let simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. The more it simmers, the more the flavors mingle together.
- Prepare Your Canning EquipmentNext, prepare the canning equipment. Get your water bath canner cleaned up and filled with water (about half full). Sterilize your jars and rings in the dishwasher. Boil the lids to sanitize them.
- Load the JarsOnce cooked, ladle into pint jars, leaving ½ in. headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Make sure to clean off the rims of the jars before placing them on the lids and rings.
- Process the JarsProcess for 10 minutes (pints) or 15 minutes (quarts).
- Cool and StoreThe last step (and the easiest) is to remove the jars from the canner. Let them cool for 24 hours on a clean dish rag. Make sure they’re out of the path of a breeze so the jars don’t crack. Then you can store them with your canned goods.
Don’t Alter the Ratios of Vegetables – Be ExactWhen it comes to making and canning zucchini relish, it’s important to be exact with the ratios of vegetables. That’s because the wrong ratio can throw off the flavor or cause the relish to spoil. So, if you’re planning on making zucchini relish, be sure to follow the recipe exactly. That way, you’ll end up with a delicious and safe product that everyone will enjoy.
Choose Firm Fruit Without Soft Spots, Insect Damage, or WrinklesChoose firm fruit without any soft spots, insect damage, or wrinkles. This will ensure that the relish has the best texture and flavor.
Big, Oversized Fruits are IdealWhen it comes to making zucchini relish, size does matter. Big, oversized fruits are ideal for this task because they have more flesh. While they are seedier, this won’t matter much in the relish. This is a great use for those large fruits you can’t find anything else to do with!
Use Vinegar With 5% AcidityWhen making zucchini relish, be sure to use a vinegar with 5% acidity, such as apple cider vinegar or white distilled vinegar. This will ensure that your relish is safe to can and will also give it the best flavor.
Use Pickling Salt, Not Table SaltWhen making zucchini relish, it is important to use pickling salt, not table salt. This is because table salt contains iodine and anti-caking agents, which can cause the zucchini to discolor. Pickling salt, on the other hand, is pure sodium chloride, which will not cause discoloration.
Measure Vegetables AFTER ChoppingOne crucial step is to measure the vegetables after they’ve been chopped. This may seem like an unnecessary extra step, but it’s actually very important. If you try to measure beforehand, it’s not only going to be awkward and challenging, but could lead to inaccurate ratios.
How Long Does Canned Zucchini Relish Last?
Canned zucchini relish is a delicious and versatile condiment that can add flavor to any dish. It’s also very shelf-stable, meaning it will last for a long time if stored properly. Most commercially canned relishes have a shelf life of at least 2 years.
The same is true of most home-canned varieties. After that, the quality of the relish will start to decline and it may become unsafe to eat.
To extend the shelf life of your canned zucchini relish, store it in a cool, dark place such as a pantry or cupboard.
And be sure to check the seals on the jars before use, as broken seals can allow bacteria to enter and contaminate the relish.
If you’ve opened a jar, it should last a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.
While the quantities of vegetables used in a zucchini relish recipe are sacrosanct, there is some wiggle room when it comes to the types of vegetables you can use.
For example, you can swap out green bell peppers for red, orange, or yellow ones.
Or, if you like your relish with a bit of a kick, you can add hot peppers such as jalapeños or habaneros (just make sure the proportion of pepper to squash remains the same).
Additionally, any type of summer squash can be used in place of zucchini, so feel free to experiment with crookneck squash, pattypan squash, or any other variety you can find at your local farmers market.
You can feel free to add most other spices and herbs, since this doesn’t usually affect processing time.
And finally, onions can be swapped out for red onions, yellow onions, shallots, leeks, or scallions depending on your preference.
What Can I Do With Zucchini Relish?
Zucchini relish is a versatile condiment that can be used in a variety of ways. It’s perfect for adding a bit of zing to burgers and sandwiches, or as a dipping sauce for appetizers. It can also be used as a topping for salads or grilled vegetables.
And of course, it makes a great addition to any picnic or cookout spread.
If you’re looking for something a little different, why not try using zucchini relish as a pizza topping?
The sweetness of the relish pairs perfectly with the savory flavor of pizza, and it’s sure to be a hit with your family and friends.
Personally, I love zucchini relish on top of delicately flavored meats, like chicken or seafood. It’s even great on white rice!
Zucchini relish offers a wonderful and safe way (and delicious!) to use up all those zucchini.
I like to save this recipe for my oversized zucchinis – you know, the ones that you find hiding in your garden that end up being about 10 lbs and three feet long!
Follow this recipe and you’ll be able to enjoy the fresh taste of zucchini even long into the winter months.
Rebekah is a full-time homesteader. On her 22 acres, she raises chickens, sheep and bees, not to mention she grows a wide variety of veggies. She has a huge greenhouse and does lots of DIY projects with her husband in her ever-growing homesteading endeavor.