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Zucchini Relish Recipe - Canning

Updated on August 9, 2011

What is zucchini relish?

Zucchini relish is like cucumber relish, but with a little more kick, and in our house we use it wherever we might have otherwise used cucumber relish:

  • on hot dogs, burgers, and other sandwiches;
  • in tuna, salmon, and trout salads;
  • in other salads;
  • in tartar sauce;
  • on its own as a sauce over grilled fish or vegetables; and
  • on a spoon, when a little taste of summer makes a dreary winter day feel warmer.

This is an old summer tradition in my family, and its origins are likely one of the classic canning books. My Grams used to make this, to help get rid of the piles of zucchini she had. She sometimes made it bright yellow, probably with food coloring, and sometimes it ended up a lot greener, perhaps with cucumbers or with a higher green pepper ratio. This article contains instructions for my version, which varies a little depending on my mood and my veggie supply. I'll tell you where the room for creativity exists, based on my experience.

Choose good produce.
Choose good produce.


As with any home canning recipe (or any recipe, in my world), you should use the best ingredients that you can obtain and afford. The primary fresh ingredients in this recipe are zucchini, peppers, and onions. Grow your own, purchase or barter them from another organic gardener, or buy them from a good produce department. Use good ones: fresh, ripe and clean. You can use those big zukes that got away from you, if you want. Use fresh spices, too. Don't use that can of turmeric that you opened three years ago. It's worth it to buy it fresh.

Note: This is a "basic" recipe. Consult a canning guide such as the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving for food safety guidelines and detailed instructions on home canning methods.

You will need:

  • 10 cups zucchini, large seeds removed
  • 5 cups onion
  • 1 1/2 red bell peppers
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1 jalepeño pepper (optional)
  • 3/4–1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 3/4–1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard (Pick a ratio of turmeric and mustard so that you have 2 teaspoons combined of these two spices. 1 teaspoon of each is a good place to start.)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Other spices (magic and secret additions to further personalize it, if you like)
  • 5 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups white vinegar

Grinding the Veggies

My food grinding setup.
My food grinding setup.
5 cups of onions.
5 cups of onions.
10 cups of zucchini.
10 cups of zucchini.
Enough veggies for two batches.
Enough veggies for two batches.
Grinding the veggies.
Grinding the veggies.


Wash your veggies and prepare them for grinding. Remove the stems, seeds, and pithy parts, and chop them into the ideal feed size for your food grinder. I use my stand mixer attachment for this recipe, so I size the veggies to fit the feed tube.

  • For the zucchini, that means 3/4 inch x 3/4 inch x 3-inch-long pieces. See photo: my pieces for this batch were a little too long.
  • Peel and chop the onions into the largest size your food grinder can handle: don't waste any tears on this project! See photo.
  • Stem, seed, and clean peppers, and cut them into the easiest-to-cut size that fits in the grinder.

Grind the veggies all into one bowl. My young son loves to help with this. With my Kitchenaid mixer, I use the highest speeds, and it goes very fast. Watch your hands.

Once all the veggies are ground up, admire the pretty colors in the mix. At this point, I like to remove about a cup of the juice, because too much juice makes the final product too watery. Taste the juice - I think it's pretty yummy and refreshing, so I just drink it, but you could also use it in soup or a light sauce.

Instructions - continued

Add the remaining ingredients and mix gently to combine.  If you're using your stand mixer, attach the paddle and mix on low.  Taste.  Pretty good, huh?

Put the mix in a large saucepan or stock pot, cover, and bring to a boil.  Watch closely:  bring it just to a boil.  I made the mistake of boiling my mix too long one day (when I got called away on a Lego piece finding emergency, or something).  The final product was not quite as crisp as I like.  It still tasted great!

Ladle into prepared half-pint jars, leaving ¼” head space.

Add lids and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Remove and let cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours.

Test seals and remove rings, if desired.  Enjoy!

As noted above, be sure to follow safe food practices as described by a good canning book.  Among these is cleaning and sanitizing your jars and lids.  I like to wash mine in my dishwasher, then place them in simmering water while they're still warm from the dishwasher.  I end up with a pretty busy, happy stove while canning!  

Add the spices.
Add the spices.
Washing the jars.
Washing the jars.
A happy stove.
A happy stove.
The finished product.
The finished product.

Taste the finished product - do you like it? How would you alter the spices next time? Make notes, buy more jars, and get ready for the next batch—you know that your zucchini plant is busy getting ready for you...have fun!

Here are some other recipes that will help you use up your garden bounty:

Zucchini Bisque - a quick, easy, smooth, and delicious soup that may be served hot or cold, and it uses up 3 pounds of zucchini!

Refrigerator Pickles - Make something easy, lovely, and delicious with all of those cucumbers.

Fig Jam - here's what to do when you have too many figs. Wait, is there such a thing?

Thanks for reading. Please leave comments and share your variations, if you try it out.


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    • profile image

      Anna 3 years ago

      Just made this! love it already. I used to be so scared of canning until a friend and her husband gave me a tutorial. I added white pepper and used maple syrup instead of sugar. So tasty!

    • Heuchera profile image

      Heuchera 7 years ago

      Hi Peggy,

      Yup, you could buy zucchini, but as you know, the best way to get zucchini is to help someone who's in the same boat you were years ago--offer to take some of another gardener's bounty. That's a win/win!

      Thanks for your comment.


    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Sounds great! Wish I had this recipe when I was growing zucchini years ago and it was going bonkers. Of course one can always resort to purchasing it in a store. This would make a great homemade gift. Thanks for sharing!