Thursday, August 20, 2009

Things to do when you're drowning in zucchini, part one

Sometime last week, I promised Jenny that I would help her run the zucchini recipe marathon, but I got so busy that until this point she's been valiantly carrying the torch all alone. Now, it's my turn to take the baton and continue the rather futile attempt to exhaust our massive zucchini supply. I come bearing recipes and a secret plan to stem the tide.

Here's the problem: when you're drowning in zucchini, you must, inevitably, tire just a bit of eating them. In that scenario, you must preserve them to eat sometime in January or February when, perhaps as a result of your courageous effort to eat as locally as possible, you find yourself surviving on turnips and garlic with nary a zucchini or squash plant in sight.

I've been there. When I was living in Boston, I, rather foolishly, vowed only to eat produce grown in Massachussetts. In August, that plan worked just fine, but come December, I was dying for something green. It was then that I decided to learn to preserve. For beginners, boiling water canning is the best, most fool-proof method of making your zucchini last. There are several steadfast rules of canning that you should absolutely know before you begin- the best primers that I've found are in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving and the Joy of Cooking. They are both easy to read and comprehensive for the home canner.

That said, I give this recipe to you in the hopes that it will keep you from getting so desperately over your head in zucchini that you covertly hide it in the handbags of every house guest you entertain from July through September. You're welcome.

Zucchini Relish

Adapted from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. A little on the sweet side, but works perfectly as a nice subsitute for that creepy neon green relish that so often graces the bun of the hot dog or hamburger. Makes about 4 half pints
  • 2 cups finely chopped zucchini, about the size of your pinky nail
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet green pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  1. Combine zucchini, onion, green and red peppers; sprinkle with salt; cover with cold water and let stand for two hours
  2. Drain; rinse and drain thoroughly.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil, add vegetables and simmer twn minutes
  4. Pack hot relish into hot jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. You may have more liquid then you need to put in the jars.
  5. Remove air bubbles; adjust two piece caps and process for ten minutes in a boiling water canner.

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