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!