Saturday, July 9, 2011

Blue Ribbon Zucchini Relish

For nearly twenty years I have used my abundant garden zucchini to make relish. My zucchini relish has upstaged everything else at the barbecue on more than one occasion. When my children were young, I kept saying I wanted to enter my zucchini relish in the County Fair, but I never seemed to manage to do it. Finally, a few years ago, I actually did enter the relish and it won a blue ribbon (first place). This is the only thing I have entered in the County Fair. So here, for your delectable enjoyment, is the blue ribbon recipe. Read all the way to the end for advice about canning/preserving. It keeps in the refrigerator indefinitely, so you don’t have to boil it up in a canning vat if you have room in the fridge. This recipe makes about one quart. For larger quantities, simply multiply the ingredients.


2 packed cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini, approximately 2 inches across at thickest part and about 8 inches long)
1 large red pepper grated
1 large green pepper grated
½ onion is optional – read directions below about the onion (1 heaping tsp. onion granules can be substituted)
¾ c. white vinegar
½ c. maple syrup
2 tbsp. salt
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. celery seed
½ tsp. turmeric
¼ tsp. black pepper

First, let me say a word about the onion. Most zucchini relish recipes call for onion. I am a big fan of red pepper and I can’t eat onion (much as I like it) so I don’t use onion in my award-winning relish. I think it is a bit overbearing in the relish, anyway. If you love onion, then put some real live onion in this recipe. I go for the onion granules instead because they lend the onion flavor but are not as strong as the real deal.

That said, grate the zucchini and peppers (and onion if you choose). I use the grater blade on my Cuisinart for this task. Be sure to remove the core and seeds from the peppers. If you make a larger quantity and use large zucchini, be sure to remove seedy portions and use only the denser part of the squash.

Next put the vinegar into a pot that is large enough for all the ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the vinegar (including the spices) and stir them in well, especially the cornstarch, so that there are no lumps. Then heat the mixture to a boil over medium heat stirring frequently to blend in the maple syrup and cornstarch. When the mixture has boiled and the maple syrup, salt, and cornstarch are clearly dissolved, add the grated vegetables and turn the heat down to a low simmer. Allow the relish to simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, over very low heat. Stir it frequently.

Put the finished relish into a one-quart jar and store it in the refrigerator when cooled. The vegetables make a lot of juice, so use a slotted spoon to move the relish from the pot to the jar. Include only as much of the juice as you would like. I usually include all the juice, because it holds flavor secrets and I figure the relish can always be drained by using a slotted spoon to scoop it out of the jar later. You can choose how wet you want it to be. I think this relish tastes best when it has marinated for at least a month. As mentioned, it keeps very well in the refrigerator so I usually store it and wait a few weeks to open it up. Or you can preserve it by following the directions below.

To put this relish up in sealed jars as a preserve, fill each canning jar to within ½-inch of the top with relish, put a fresh and unused canning lid on it, and tighten it down with a ring. Place the jars of canned relish in a canning vat so that they are covered with water and boil them for 20 minutes. Then retighten the rings and allow to cool.

Great on veggie burgers, tofu burgers, and cheese sandwiches, this relish is also a dynamite addition to egg salad, deviled eggs, and potato salad. It makes a wonderful dip when combined with mayo.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!


  1. Thank you for the wonderful recipe. I am now making my first batch. I had onions and hot peppers from our garden, so I included those. We will use it in our soup beans and on our hotdogs as well.

  2. Terrific! The garden onions and hot peppers will make it a spicy version. Although I love onions, I can't eat them (I can't digest them very well) so I did not include them in this recipe. Honestly, I suspect that the judges at the fair gave me the ribbon because I left the onions out. Onions can be so overbearing that sometimes it's nice to be able to taste all the other flavors more by omitting the onions. But onions are delicious, no doubt about it. I hope you love your relish!

  3. Sounds great, but is there something else I can use for the Cane sugar liquid?

  4. Yes! I have to revise this recipe. I don't use sugar in much of anything. I make this recipe substituting maple syrup for the sugar and it works just fine.

  5. I have changed the sugar to maple syrup!