Yesterday I addressed some of the various and sundry ways you can go about using up your excessive zucchini harvest (and sneaking up in the dark of night to leave them on a neighbors porch was not among them-no matter what Grace says *wink*). Now I want to talk about some of the ways you can put up zucchini for the future. First of course is canning-I mentioned that I had made zucchini pickles for the first time last week and promised to post the recipe. I promise, I will get to that in a minute.
Now, I have made jam, apple butter, and chili sauce in the past, all of which are canned in a hot water bath. So I am familiar with the process. I don’t find boiling water bath canning difficult, just hot and time consuming-especially in the middle of summer with no air conditioning. These zucchini pickles were only my second attempt at canned pickles (the first being pickled green cherry tomatoes), not because I am intimidated by the canning process, but rather because I find the taste of pickles to vary widely. Personally I don’t like a pickle that is too sour-and I can’t tell from looking at a recipe how sour the finished product will be. I have had the unfortunate experience in the past of making some refrigerator pickles which came out so sour that I couldn’t eat them. I don’t have an abundance of cucumbers, so wasting a whole batch in that way left a big impression.
I decided to chance it with the zucchini pickles since I have a good supply of zucchini-if I made a batch that didn’t appeal to my family’s taste it wouldn’t be such a tragedy. I’m glad I did, because the result of the following recipe was a pleasant sweet pickle.
Sweet Zucchini Pickles
3 lbs firm zucchini
2 lbs onions
1/4 cup pickling salt
3 cups white vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
-Slice zucchini thinly. I used the food processor.
-Thinly slice quartered onions. Again, I used the food processor.
-Place onions and zucchini in a large blow or nonreactive pot. Add enough water to cover. Stir in pickling salt until dissolved. Let this stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
-Drain, rinse and drain again. I put mine in a sieve that fits over the sink, then I gently pressed on the whole pile of veggies to drain out even more liquid.
-In a pot large enough to accommodate both the veggies and the brine, combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, celery salt and tumeric. Let marinate for 2 hours.
If you are going to can rather than freeze or use as refridgerator pickles:
-Bring brine and veggies together to a boil.
-Then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
-Pack vegetables and liquid into clean, hot pint jars.
-Process the pickles in boiling water bath 15 minutes.
Princess and Buddy both pronounced these pickles a success, and as they are the big pickle eaters in the house I figured that made these a winner.
I have to say that recipes which go by weight drive me nuts-I have no idea how much “3 lbs” of zucchini or “2 lbs” of onions are. I ran about 3 large zucchini cut into halves or quarters (whichever fit through the feed tube ) through my food processor on the 4mm blade-that seemed to do the trick. I also used 3 regular sized onions. The recipe made 4 pint jars. Next time I’ll keep some out without canning them for eating right out of the fridge-after spending all that time over the hot stove I’m at loathe to open one of the jars that I just canned. . . .
Next on the canning agenda for me is zucchini relish and, if the zucchini keeps coming my way, possibly zucchini in tomato sauce.
A totally different way to store your zucchini for the future is by freezing it.
The first time I ever heard of freezing zucchini was in the Tightwad Gazette. Amy D mentions in there her method, which I recounted yesterday, of shredding the zucchini and storing it in Zucchini bread sized portions. When you defrost the zucchini it will have naturally rendered a lot of the liquid out of the squash. The suggested method of dealing with this is to use the liquid in place of any liquid that your recipe calls for. This is to preserve as many of the vitamins and nutrients as possible.
The second method of freezing zucchini I found in a great book called “The Busy Persons Guide to Preserving the Harvest”. (This book was so good that after reading it at the library I had to go on Amazon.com and buy myself a used copy to keep on my bookshelf). The author says that if you intend to stir fry zucchini after freezing, then you can simply cut it into disks about ¼ inch thick and vaccum seal it raw. As long as you make sure the zucchini is still frozen when it goes into the stirfry pan, the end quality of the squash is supposed to be pretty good.
As an experiment I froze 4 family size portions this way. In a few weeks I’ll take one out and prepare it as suggested and give you all a report on how it works out. If the quality really is decent, then this is about the easiest way I’ve ever heard to preserve something! (let’s just hope that it isn’t too good to be true).
Of course the last way to preserve zucchini would be to dry it. I don’t have a dehydrator (I don’t need one, I don’t need one. . . unless I find one in a yard sale) so I really don’t have any experience in this. I’d love to hear from anyone who has some tips and tricks on dehydrating zucchini.