Friday, July 8, 2011

How to make zucchini relish

This is my favorite zucchini relish recipe. My aunt taught me how to make it. It was one of the first things I learned to can many years ago. A favorite at our house!

You'll need a water bath canner and some sterilized jars. But before you get the canner all ready, first thing you'll need to do is chop up all your zucchini and other vegetables. You want about 10 cups of chopped vegetables. I always use what I have on hand. Sometimes I mix cucumbers with the zucchini or just use the zucchini. I like to add green and red bell peppers, onions, carrots for extra color. If you don't have the other vegetables, then just use about 8 cups of zucchini.

Chop all the vegetables up (whether by hand or food processor) I prefer to hand chop it all. Takes forever but I like the uniformity of the teeny tiny chunks like the store bought kind looks like. The most important step is to then soak it in a large bowl without about 1/4 cup of salt in it. This draws the moisture out of the veggies. As my aunt calls it, she lets the veggies cry. Otherwise, when you cook the veggies and can them, all the moisture comes out then, and you're left with watery tasting relish.

Cover the bowl with something to keep flies and bugs out and let it soak for several hours. I let my last batch sit for 4 hours. Though ideally, you could prepare this and let it stand overnight and then can it first thing in the morning. I waited until the afternoon and the heat was just unbearable!

Then, rinse the veggies to get the saltiness out. Doesn't have to be perfect, just rinse a few times.

When you're done with that, get your canning jars ready. If you're new to canning, this is a great website that teaches you all about that. To make the brine, you'll need:

1 cup vinegar
2 cups sugar
If you need more brine, double it. I don't like a lot of juice in my relish, personally.

Dissolve the sugar and get the brine boiling. Then, add the chopped rinsed drained veggies. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add 1-2 Tablespoons pickling spice. You can put it in a cheese cloth bag, but I like having the spices in with the relish.

Spoon into hot jars,  wipe rims, and add rings and lids and lower into canner. Water bath for 10 minutes.  It's important not to have any fans blowing right on the canner when you take your jars out. Otherwise they might crack. I like to let the canner cool a little before I remove the jars out. I place them on a towel and listen for the pleasant "pings" knowing that they are sealed. If any did not seal, I usually just put those in the refrigerator to use up first. Otherwise you have to can them all over again and they will be mushy from overcooking. I always use new lids though and have only had a couple from time to time not seal.

Not sure how my picture came out sideways but...

I had some liquid leftover from the first batch and took some extra zucchini and chopped the pieces up rather large this time. Just left it chunky and heated the liquid back up and added the zucchini and cooked it the same way. Then I just put it in some quart jars for the refrigerator.

    • and by the way, when I made the pint jars you see above, I forgot to get out the air bubbles and was convinced the whole thing was ruined so I stored them all the in the refrigerator to be safe, only to find out that air bubbles are normal!

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