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Blue Ribbon Zucchini Relish

Oftentimes, anyone who plants zucchini in their garden ends up begging others to take it off their hands!  Our zucchini plants did alright this year, but not spectacular.  We got enough zucchini for what we needed, so we were not hiding squash in our neighbor’s garden just to get rid of it!  Many people are done with zucchini by now, but there may be a few still floating around out there!  In that case, this recipe may come in handy!

I thoroughly enjoy chopping vegetables, so relishes are one of my favorite things to make and can.  Last year, I tried my hand at making zucchini relish for the first time.  I enjoyed making it so much that I decided to try it again this year, doing a few things differently.

Recently, this recipe won a blue ribbon at a local county fair!  The initial bite of the relish tastes sweet, with a vinegar finish.  The cinnamon and allspice add a bit of a spicy warmth to the relish.

This is a two day process, so keep that in mind before you begin.  All of the vegetables need  seeded and chopped first.  I like to hand chop everything into small pieces.  It takes a while, but I like to take that time.  If you need to get everything chopped a little more quickly, a few pulses in a food processor would probably work too, but I have not personally tried that.

This recipe calls for 12 cups of zucchini, which equates to about 3-4 medium zucchinis.  I had a variety of sizes from our garden, from tiny to large, so that is one way to go.  Last year, I left the skin on the zucchini, but this year I peeled them.  It is really a matter of preference.

Once all of the veggies are chopped, they get covered with a little bit of salt and turmeric and set in the refrigerator overnight.  This includes the onion and bell peppers.  The turmeric turns everything a bright yellow color.  It also turned the green bell pepper lighter, while the red peppers keep their bright color.  It brightens up the relish!

The second day, start by making the brine.  Cook the vinegar, sugar, spices, and corn starch over medium heat until it thickens a bit.  While it is cooking, dump the vegetables into a colander and rinse them off with cold water to get rid of any excess salt and turmeric.

Once the sauce is thickened, add the vegetables to the mixture.  If you want, you can add a squirt of yellow mustard.  Last year, I did not have turmeric or ground mustard, so I just used yellow mustard to take the place of the majority of the spices.  It did not turn out badly!  In fact, it was awarded third place at our county fair.

Simmer the relish, low and slow, for about 30 minutes.  You can let it go a little longer if the sauce is not thick enough, but not too long.  Mushy zucchini would not provide a good texture!

Once the zucchini has been cooked, you can ladle the relish into mason jars (I recommend half pints or pints), leaving ½ inch head space, and process them in a water bath canner.  If you are not sure how to do that, you can check out this post.  I process my jars for 15 minutes.  (This has not been tested and authorized by anyone, so it is an “at your own risk” situation.  I have never had any trouble, and there is a good amount of vinegar in the recipe.  If you are unsure, you could try pressure canning, just to be on the safe side.)  This recipe makes about 7 pints, but I would have more jars ready just in case.

If zucchini relish is not your cup of tea, you can check out this recipe for dill pickle relish, which was also awarded a blue ribbon at the county fair.

This recipe takes some time, but it is worth it!  I am thankful I found a recipe I like, and it is also a great way to use a lot of zucchini!  So, if you’ve got some extra zucchinis still laying around, and you don’t know what else to make, give this recipe a try!  Or, you can save it for next year’s zucchini overload so that your family has some tasty relish for summer cookouts and picnics!

Canned Zucchini Relish

12 cups zucchini

1 green bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

4 cups onion

4 cups vinegar

3 cups sugar

1 T ground mustard

1 tsp celery seed

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp allspice

1 T cornstarch

Squirt of yellow mustard


Finely chop vegetables.  Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. salt and 1 tsp turmeric.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Cook vinegar, sugar, spice, and cornstarch until thickened.  Whisk until cornstarch is combined well to avoid lumps.

Rinse vegetables in a colander with cold water.

Add vegetables to sauce, simmer for about 30 minutes.

Fill jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Process for 15 minutes.

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