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How to Make Crisp Zucchini Pickles

Buster began cooking as a wee pup by watching his mother fix the kibble. He was hooked. He loves preparing—and writing about—food.

A jar of sliced zucchini with sweet onions and hot pepper

A jar of sliced zucchini with sweet onions and hot pepper

Pickles From Zucchini? They're Delicious

Yes, and I mean crisp and full of flavor! You'll be amazed at how delicious these pickles are. Every gardener (and those who have friends who are gardeners) knows that when zucchini start appearing, you have tons of them.

If you're like me, you already know how to make zucchini bread and some of the more common recipes using zucchini. I love pickles! So I decided to figure out how to make crisp, delicious ones from zucchini. If you'll follow the directions below, you won't believe your taste buds. I know the directions seem long, but they're really easy. I've included background information that will help you understand exactly what you're doing.

Ingredients

  • Four large zucchini (recipe can be doubled and tripled—directions below)
  • one sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup pickling lime (I use Mrs. Wages Pickling Lime)
  • 2 jalapeños or hot Thai peppers (these are optional—I like spicy foods)
  • one garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp pickling salt (not table salt—it will discolor your pickles)
  • 2 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 2 cups of water

Note: For the canning part, you'll need canning jars, canning lids and screw lids.

This is what the zucchini look like while soaking in the lime water.

This is what the zucchini look like while soaking in the lime water.

1. Prepare the Zucchini

  1. Into a large nonmetallic bowl (I use a large glass mixing bowl) put 1/2 cup of pickling lime, and 5 cups of water.
  2. Prepare the zucchini: wash, then slice off either end. Slice the zucchini into rounds; I slice them the same thickness as hamburger pickles.
  3. Place the cut zucchini into the bowl with the lime/water mixture. If necessary, add more water so that your vegetables are completely covered by the lime/water. Stir gently with a spoon.
  4. Let the zucchini slices soak in the lime/water mixture for about an hour.
  5. You'll notice that the lime settles to the bottom. Therefore, every 10 minutes or so, gently stir the zucchini in the lime/water mixture.
  6. Pour off the lime/water mixture, rinse the zucchini carefully in several batches of clean water. Depending on the amount of pickles you're making, this may require three or four times that you pour off the water, add in more fresh water, swish the zucchini slices around, then pour off that water and add in more.
  7. This part is important: Fill your bowl with the cleaned zucchini and fresh water. Stir them around with your hands and leave for about 10 minutes. You'll probably discover that your water has turned (slightly) milky-colored. This is just the last of the lime coming out of the zucchini.
  8. Pour this off and then put in more fresh water and let them sit for about 10 minutes. If the water is clear, you're ready for the next step. If it still seems cloudy, then pour this water off and put fresh water in and let them set. Usually, one soak will do it, but if I'm doing a lot of zucchini, then I sometimes need to let them sit in a second batch of water.
Sliced zucchini in the vinegar mixture

Sliced zucchini in the vinegar mixture

2. Make the Zucchini Pickles

  1. Combine the 2 tbsp of pickling salt (don't use table salt, it will discolor the pickles) with the vinegar, and add in 2 cups of water.
  2. Peel and thinly slice the sweet onion.
  3. Remove the husk from the garlic clove, and slice it into two pieces.
  4. Slice the jalapeno into rings. I like hot pickles, so I also include the seeds. If you want a milder pickle, cut the jalapeno in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and inner membrane. Obviously, if you don't like hot foods, then simply omit the pepper.
  5. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeno to the salt/vinegar mixture and bring it to a full boil.
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3. Prepare Your Canning Jars

When I'm making a small batch (4 large zucchini, as described in this recipe) I use 3 pint canning jars and plan to simply put them into the refrigerator to eat during the next few weeks to a month. However, if I'm making a large batch, then I simply guesstimate how many jars I'll need.

  1. Wash the jars in hot—I mean hot!—soapy water. Put them into a kettle (or large pot) and fill with water. Bring the jars/water to a boil to sterilize the jars.
  2. In a skillet, boil some water then take it off the heat. Put your canning lids into the water while you continue with the recipe.

4. Transfer the Zucchini to the Jars

  1. Once your vinegar mixture has come to a full boil, pour in your zucchini slices. Bring the mixture back to a boil.
  2. Put your sterilized jars on the counter, then carefully ladle in the zucchini, onion slices, and pepper. Ladle carefully so the slices don't break apart. Once the jar is full, pour in some of the vinegar liquid. Leave about a 1/2 inch of headspace (the room between the top of the pickles and the top of your jar.)
  3. Carefully remove a canning lid from the hot water (be careful you don't burn your hands) then place on the top of the jars, then screw on your lid.
  4. Turn the jars over on a clean kitchen towel for approximately 10 minutes, then turn them upright.
  5. Leave the jars on the counter until they have come to room temperature. I usually leave them undisturbed for a night, then I put them onto my canned goods shelf in the kitchen, away from direct sunlight.

That's all there is to it! Enjoy!

Questions & Answers

Question: How long will zucchini pickles be good on the shelf?

Answer: I would use them within about six weeks, otherwise, they become too soft. Zucchinis don't maintain texture like cucumbers.

Question: Can I process the jars in hot water bath for longer shelf life?

Answer: Zucchini pickles are more of a "quick pickle" and should be eaten within about six weeks. If you process the jars in a hot water bath, you will cook the zucchini, which will make them soft. You want to avoid that with a pickle.

Question: Is it ok to peel the skin of the zucchini I feel like the skin is too tough?

Answer: The skin will become tender during the pickling process. I've never peeled the skin, but my guess is that the skin serves to maintain the "integrity" of the pickled spears.

If you decide to peel the skin, we would love to hear your results.

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