Sweet & Spicy Zucchini Relish for National Can-It-Forward Day

Zucchini Relish - 12

The first time I pickled something, I swore up and down that I would never do it again. Sure, the dilled carrots I made came out okay, and it was fun to learn how to pickle. But my entire house smelled of vinegar for days, and once I finally popped open the one jar I made, I was disappointed to realize that I really didn’t like pickled carrots. I decided that was the end of my pickling experience…that is, until I tried some pickles that a friend brought on a camping trip that summer. Before I knew it, I was making my own bread & butter pickles (this time with more ventilation to keep the vinegar smell from lingering in the house), and putting several other pickling projects on my list of things to do. One of them, of course, was relish.

Zucchini Relish - 11

As promised, today I’m participating in all the fun of National Can-It-Foward Day by posting a step-by-step tutorial on pickling zucchini relish. Now, don’t be scared away by the word “pickling.” It’s easier than you think! Although there are several steps involved, none of them are overly complicated…and of course, remember to crack open a window or two and turn on your oven vent if you have one. If you’re going to be pickling for the first time, I recommend making sure that you’re using a safe and reliable recipe; I adapted mine from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

I hope you’ll join in on the fun, too! Even though I plan to enjoy this sweet and spicy relish on hot dogs and hamburgers over the rest of summer, I’m also looking forward to popping open a few jars during the winter when fresh vegetables begin to dwindle! If you haven’t already, head on over here to check out helpful videos, the schedule of events, and to sign up to view the day’s events as they happen! Happy canning!

  • 12 cups zucchini, diced
  • 4 cups onion, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 Tbsp celery seeds
  • 2 Tbsp fresh dill
  • 1/2 Tbsp crushed red pepper

In a large pot, combine the zucchini, onion, red and green peppers, and salt. Cover and let stand in a cool place for 12 hours or overnight.

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Then, drain the mixture in a colander and rinse with cool water.

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Press with your hands to squeeze out any excess liquid. I ended up splitting up the mixture into two colanders to make sure that I got a good amount of the moisture out.

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In a large pot, combine the drained zucchini mixture, sugar, vinegar, mustard and celery seeds, fresh dill, and crushed red pepper.

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Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

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Reduce the heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced and the mixture is the consistency of a thin commercial relish, about 45 minutes.

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When ready to can, prepare your supplies. Bring the temperature of the glass jars up by processing them in hot water for several minutes. Heat a few cups of water in a small saucepan for the lids. When ready to fill the jars, remove them from the pot with tongs, draining the water from each one.

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Ladle the hot relish into the hot jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace.

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Place the lids on top and screw on the bands. Place the jars back into the canner and process (boil) for 15 minutes.

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Remove the canner lid and let them process 5 more minutes before removing the jars.

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Once removed from the water, the seals should suck down (you’ll hear a popping noise as they do). Let sit 24 hours for the relish to set completely. Makes 7-8 eight-ounce jars.

21 Responses to “Sweet & Spicy Zucchini Relish for National Can-It-Forward Day”

  1. 1 Maris (In Good Taste) Says:
    August 13th, 2011 at 7:52 am

    This is a truly a really great pictorial. Very interesting and the result is perfection!

  2. 2 Merut Says:
    August 13th, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I had the same experience from pickling zucchini last year. I tried to make them just like cucumber pickles. Only one word can describe it for me – gross. But I think I’d be interested in this zucchini relish. It probably has a lot more depth to it. I love all of your step-by-step pics! Can on!

  3. 3 Raina Says:
    August 13th, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    I am in awe of your canning. Your are so smart to do this. It sounds delicious, and with food being so expensive, you must really enjoy having your canned foods all year long. You are really inspiring me to start canning:) I would love to try this. I think it wound even be good on chicken.

  4. 4 Katrina Says:
    August 14th, 2011 at 3:11 am

    Very cool idea!

  5. 5 marla {family fresh cooking} Says:
    August 14th, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Canning is something I have never done but should. This relish is beautiful & I bet it tastes great!

  6. 6 Casey@Good. Food. Stories. Says:
    August 14th, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    So funny – I LOVE pickled carrots and have a post on the way extolling my obsession with them! More for me, I guess…

  7. 7 Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies Says:
    August 15th, 2011 at 8:46 am

    LOL so funny. Is it weird that I don’t like bread and butter pickles? I mean, it must be. They’re a Southern thing, aren’t they? I’ve just never been a fan. Give me a crisp dill, or something like this spicy relish any day of the week and I’m all over it.

  8. 8 Jackie Says:
    August 15th, 2011 at 11:21 am

    I’ve always liked this relish – and I love to make it. I like all the chopping! Besides using it on burgers and hotdogs, we mix it with a little mayo for sandwiches or salads. Yum!

  9. 9 Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction Says:
    August 15th, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Pickles and relish are one of my favorites for canning… This recipe looks very tasty! Fortunately, Darron loves to eat pickles. That way, he doesn’t complain about the pickle juice smell. The first time I made pickles, he came down the stairs and proclaimed, “Holy pickle juice, Batman!” And, now he insists on saying that *every time* I make pickles.

  10. 10 Christina @ Sweet Pea's Kitchen Says:
    August 16th, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Yummy! I love the idea of making and canning my own relish! :)

  11. 11 Rachael S Says:
    August 18th, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    I am simmering this on the stove as I write this. :) It is awesome even in it’s raw stage. Hubby wanted to just keep eating it but I wanted to get some in jars.
    Thanks for sharing!

  12. 12 Barbara Says:
    August 21st, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Is that cook 45 minutes a typo? I got to 20 min and everything was turning to mush, so I canned from there. I have a feeling I just messed up 10 cans of relish… sad face.

  13. 13 Tracy Says:
    August 21st, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Barbara – It wasn’t a typo, as I adapted my recipe from the one in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. However, if your relish was already thickening after 20 minutes, I think it’s a good idea that you canned it! I hope it turned out okay!

  14. 14 Tammy Says:
    October 12th, 2011 at 12:21 am

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your relish! Thank you so much for sharing a jar with us :)

  15. 15 Leanne Says:
    July 24th, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Just found this post. Gonna make the relish tomorrow!! Thanks…. what would happen if I leave the veggies in salt longer than 12 hours? I was thinking about prepping one evening then boiling/canning the next?

    Thanks for sharing!

  16. 16 Tracy Says:
    July 26th, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Leanne – You can leave the veggies overnight if you want – no worries! Have fun!

  17. 17 Debby Says:
    August 5th, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    I am so excited to harvest enough zucchini for this recipe! I have made so many zucchini recipes today I feel like the shrimp recipes in Forest Gump!

  18. 18 Karen Says:
    June 5th, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    My family loved this relish. They want me to make it again and add a little more crushed red pepper.

  19. 19 Christine Says:
    July 24th, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Could you substitute honey for the sugar and if so, how much?

  20. 20 Shirley Says:
    September 5th, 2013 at 8:04 am

    I always wondered , why we have to salt and let stand and then rinse cucumbers, onions etc before canning?

  21. 21 lily longflower Says:
    July 28th, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    veggies are salted to remove the extra water in them, this helps concentrate the flavors in the finished product.

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