Hot Zucchini Relish


My grandmother used to make and sell the most astonishing hot pepper relish. This isn’t that recipe—some family secrets are meant to be kept—but it’s almost as good. It has a proven track record in winning over zucchini doubters, relish doubters, and hot pickle doubters.  It’s also an excellent use for leftover, end-of-season yellow squash and zucchini.

And the best part? Because the liquid component of the syrup is unadulterated vinegar, you can vary the ratio of peppers to zucchini to your little heart’s content without compromising the relish’s safety for water-bath canning. You’re in much greater danger of burning your fingers from the hot peppers than you are of contracting botulism. If you’re sensitive, be sure to wear gloves while handling the peppers.

One other thing: in honor of my late grandmother, this hot and sweet. Feel free to cut the sugar by as much as half if that’s not your thing.

Hot Zucchini Relish

Approx. 2 pounds zucchini or yellow squash, shredded
Approx. 1/2 pound onions, shredded
Approx. 1 1/2 pound peppers, combination of sweet and hot, shredded
2 c. white or raw sugar
2 c. cider or white vinegar
2 T kosher salt
1 T mustard seed

1) Make your life easier by shredding everything in a food processor. Trust me on this.

2) Combine the sugar, vinegar, salt, and mustard seeds in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add in the vegetables and simmer 10 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, prepare a boiling water bath and sterilize 4 pint jars* and lids. Transfer the hot relish into the hot jars and adjust the two-piece lids. Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.

I made my version with cider vinegar, white onions, and about equal parts (by weight) sweet and hot peppers. The hots ranged from a relatively mild serrano to three surprisingly hot banana peppers and a couple of cayenne. I could stand in the kitchen, eating this on crackers, all afternoon.

*Note: I will swear up and down that this made 4 half-pints for me, but everyone else is getting 4 pints. Maybe my scale’s off? Maybe I was typing the recipe from another dimension? In any case, thanks for the feedback!

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10 comments to Hot Zucchini Relish

  • Michelle in Colorado

    Could I can these in pint or quart jars?

  • dorisandjilly

    Michelle: Pints are fine at 10 minutes. If you’re doing quarts, you should probably up the processing time to 15 minutes….but be aware that that’s a lot of hot zucchini relish!

  • michelle in colorado

    Yes but I know a family that would eat a quart in less than a week. Thanks!

  • Now I’m not a lover of zucchini but I’m going to give this one a try.

    Thank you.

  • I just happen to have all of this on hand….SO MUCH ZUCCHINI!! and this sure sounds delicious, thanks!!

  • michelle in colorado

    I made the quarts and one of the ones I gave a way was eaten in less than 3 days. They really liked it.

  • maria

    4 half-pints? I made this last night (yummy!) but ended up with 5 pints!

  • Amy

    I just took this out of the canner. Got 3 1/2 pints, with a bit leftover to mellow in the fridge and taste. I used just a tad less onion and added a few cloves minced garlic. It’s already quite good, can’t wait to taste it in a few weeks. I think this’d be great on burgers, grilled chicken, or to dress up a sandwich.

    Thanks for another great recipe!

  • Sue

    We have made this a number of times… absolutely love it!! All sorts of variants to work with, more or less of peppers, hotter, etc… and it still is fantastic! My son-in-law is going to mix it with cream cheese… Great recipe!! Great way to use that zucchini!!

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