I don't know what it is with zucchini, but I've yet to come across someone who complains that the vegetable doesn't grow well for them.
Instead, they can usually be seen most of the summer lugging a half dozen wherever they go, trying to foist them off on friends and co-workers without a garden of their own.
When we had our first garden in the Garden State no less we had more zucchini than we could ever hope to give away. I made zucchini bread, zucchini soup, zucchini with eggs I was getting pretty sick of zucchini to be honest.
With my burgeoning garden, however, came the desire to preserve all of this wonderful bounty, so I began making jams, jellies and anything else I could process in a boiling water bath. (Pressure cookers scare me.)
Because we love pickles and relishes, I was disappointed when my cucumber plants barely produced enough for one batch of bread and butter pickles.
Instead, I tried the same recipes in the Ball Blue Book, substituting zucchini for cucumbers.
The results were terrific, but the Sweet Zucchini Relish has become almost legendary.
As the name implies, it's sweeter than most relishes, but it has a taste that's very different from any other relish I've ever had. I've made it with cucumbers, and it's very good as well, but there is something about the zucchini that really amps up the flavor.
This is delicious on hot dogs and hamburgers, or stirred into egg salad or chicken salad. I even have a friend who eats it from the jar with a spoon.
The following recipe is adapted from the Ball Blue Book, my canning Bible. I highly recommend picking up a copy and following the directions on how to prepare jars for canning and processing your handiwork.
Canning is a little bit of work, but the results are so very much worth it in the end.
4 cups chopped zucchini
2 cups chopped onions
1 chopped green pepper
1 chopped sweet red pepper
cup of salt
3 1/2 cups of sugar
2 cups cider vinegar
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 tablespoon mustard seed
Use a food processor to finely chop zucchini, onions and peppers. Combine in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and cover with cold water. Let stand 2 hours. Drain thoroughly; press out excess liquid.
Combine sugar, vinegar, celery seed and mustard seed; heat to boiling. Add drained vegetables and simmer 10 minutes.
Pack into hot half-pint jars, leaving -inch head space. Adjust caps.
Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.