While tying up the tomatoes that are flourishing in my raised vegetable garden, I came across a zucchini that I didn’t realize I had planted. So far I have just found one, but this one is oversized and should have been harvested way earlier. Zucchinis are best eaten when they are about 8 or 9 inches long and haven’t widened out and developed big seeds. Zucchini is a summer squash, and is also called Courgette. The zucchini is really a “baby marrow”. So what I have growing in my garden is really a marrow…….
They can still be eaten when they get oversized, but they may get bitter – this means they have developed too much curcurbitacins – which is a toxin. According to Wikipedia:
“Members of the plant family Cucurbitaceae, which includes zucchini / marrows, pumpkins and cucumbers, can contain toxins called cucurbitacins. These are steroids which defend the plants from predators, and have a bitter taste to humans.“
So, the best thing to do is to check to make sure the zucchini hasn’t gotten mushy anywhere – and I just taste tested a few little pieces – mine was not bitter at all.
I finely diced the zucchini and came up with about 5 cups after I took the seedy bits out of the centre. I had everything onhand to prepare Zucchini Relish from the Better Homes and Gardens “You Can Can” – which is one of my favourite cookbooks and I have made this recipe many times.
5 cups finely diced zucchini (I can’t say I’m very good at dicing – my pieces are likely a little too big – but we love the crunchy relish on burgers and hot dogs at our house)
1.5 cups finely chopped onion (the recipe calls for 3 medium onions – I found one large white onion gave me a cup and a half!)
3/4 cups each diced red and green pepper (I used 3/4 cups red and 3/4 cups yellow bell peppers because that’s what I grew – and I think the yellow is a nice contrast with the red, white and green in the relish)
1/4 cup pickling salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
Optionally – 1 or 2 drops green food colouring – I do not use this at all – I like the nice yellow mustardy colour of this relish with the contrasting red peppers and bits of green zucchini. It doesn’t need more colour!
In a large non-metal bowl (I used a glass one) mix diced zucchini, onion and peppers. Pour pickling salt over the vegetables. Pour about 4 or 5 cups of water over the vegetables and salt – enough that all vegetables are submerged.
Let the vegetables sit for about 3 hours. I put my bowl in the refrigerator.
This recipe makes about 5 500ml jars or relish. Sterilize 5 500ml jars and rings in boiling water for 10 minutes. I always sterilize a few extra jars in hopes of producing more recipe. Set the jars and rings on a clean surface – ready to use. Reserve the pot of water to warm the snap lids later and to boil the finished jars. I do this step after the vegetables have been sitting for 3 hours – before I prepare the spices – so that the jars are still warm when I put the relish in.
After the vegetables have sat for 3 hours – mix 1/4 cup water, sugar, vinegar and spices in a large stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil, and then let simmer stirring for 3 minutes. At about the same time – drain and rinse the vegetables.
Add strained/rinsed zucchini, sweet pepper and onion mix to the pot. Bring to a boil and boil gently for about 10 minutes
Turn off heat. Ladle relish evenly into the sterilized jars. I used a spoon to distribute the solid parts of the relish between each jar. Then I used a ladle to pour the liquid that was left behind over the solid vegetables. Press the vegetables down in the jars so that they are submerged in the liquid. I made 3 500ml jars and 1 one liter jar, and then I had about 250 ml leftover which I put in my extra jar for the refrigerator.
Warm the snap lids in pot of hot water to soften seals for a few minutes. Remove lids from water and set aside.
Wipe the jar rims clean. Centre the snap lids on the jars, and screw on the rings to fingertip tight.
Place the jars upright in water pot – ensure that the jars are covered with at least one inch of water. Bring jars and water to a full boil – for 10 full minutes.
Turn off heat. Let the jars sit for 5 minutes. Remove jars from water while keeping upright to cool on a heat proof surface. Let sit for 24 hours. As each jar cools, the lid will contract and seal – curving inward. You should hear a pop when this happens.