Sunday, July 11, 2010

Preserving the Harvest: Zucchini Relish

Admit it, those first few little zucchini that point proudly at you every year are a delicacy. You can't wait to saute those gorgeous little nutritious nuggets and enjoy them for dinner.

But then something happens, that little zucchini plant becomes Audrey, Jr, screaming 'Feed me Seymour' while belching zucchini at you. When you've eaten all the zucchini lasagna, zucchini parmesan, zucchini bread, zucchini fritters, and sauteed zucchini you can stomach - you do the unthinkable - ignore little Audrey Jr - just for a day. Hey, we all need a break - we have a life, right? Just a day, and there it is, the 8 lb zucchini that was hiding under those monstrous leaves just two days ago.

Well, here is a tasty way to preserve that bumper crop of zucchini we all seem to have every year. This relish makes a very tasty complement to burgers, hot dogs, or sausages. It also makes an interesting meatloaf addition. If you like Jamaican jerk dishes, this is a good relish to have on the side also. We adapted this recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

This is a two-day process.

Zucchini Relish

Day 1
12 cups chopped zucchini
4 cups chopped onion
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped

The size you make these chopped vegetables is dependent on how you would like to use it. If you like very fine relish to use as a condiment, you may want to use a food processor to make quick work of this. If you like relish on the side, you might want a larger dice.

When chopping large zucchini, you will likely want to scoop the inner seeds and membrane. If you happen to have chickens, they love this!

Put all of the above in a large glass or stainless steel bowl and mix with 1/3 cup canning/pickling salt. Cover and allow this to sit overnight.

Day 2
In the morning, place the zucchini mixture in a colander in the sink or over a bowl and allow to drain for an hour or two.

Wring all the moisture you can out of the vegetables and place in a large pot, then add:

2 cups granulated sugar (original recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups, but we find this too sweet)
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 Tablespoon ground Allspice (original recipe calls for Nutmeg)
1 Tablespoon ground Turmeric
4 Tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 chopped chili pepper (any you have on hand: wax, cayenne, jalapeno, serrano, fresno)

Mix all together in the large pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat.

Reduce heat and boil this gently until it is the consistency you'd like - I usually cook it down for about an hour.

Prepare your jars, lids, rings and set the canner on the stove filled with water and heat to boiling.

Ladle the relish into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Place lids and finger-tight rings and carefully place jars into canner, making sure jars are covered with at least 1/2 inch of water.

Bring to boil and process for 15 minutes. Leave in canner for 5 minutes, then remove to towel and allow to seal.

Happy relish making!

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