Preserving the harvest: zucchini relish.

relish.JPGI promised to talk about what to do with all that zucchini, didn’t I?

Well, my favorite way to eat zucchini is grated and sauteed with lots of butter and garlic. But there’s only so much of that a person can eat.

While I was thinking about interesting ways to preserve zucchini, I remembered an old-fashioned zucchini-mustard pickle that one of our neighbors used to make when I was little. It was yellow, oniony, and a bit sweet, with lots of mustard seeds in it.

(The neighbor ladies weren’t allowed to give me cookies, as my parents were into full-on Jethro Kloss–style healthfoodism. Eventually, after shaking their heads and clucking their tongues—what’s childhood without cookies?—the ladies compromised with my mother and gave me jars of pickles instead. Not a bad deal, really. A jar of pickles lasts a lot longer than a cookie.)

I was excited to try to re-create the yellow zucchini pickles of my childhood. But here’s the thing: they were cooked vinegar pickles, and I’ve been really into raw fermented pickles lately. I figured if I made a raw pickle using similar ingredients, the flavor would likely be similar. But the texture would be really different. And I don’t really like the crunchy-but-grainy texture of raw zucchini.

My solution was to grate the zucchini and make a relish, hoping that the crunch of the zucchini would be pleasant this way.

Here’s what I did:

Grated up one oversized zucchini, minus the seeds. (This is a good use for monster zucchini.)

Mixed in one chopped red jalapeño and one thinly sliced onion.

Salted the mix. Well. Until it tasted nice and salty.

Added spices: turmeric, mustard seeds, allspice, cinnamon, pepper.

Packed it in a jar with two cherry leaves. (You could use grape leaves, or oak, too. This is to keep it from getting mushy.)

I squished the relish down until it was submerged in its own juice, and kept it there with a “pickling rock” about the size of the mouth of the jar.

If you haven’t made fermented pickles before, I’d suggest you read a bit about technique before you make any. Sandor Ellix Katz’s Wild Fermentation is a good place to start.

I let this relish ferment for about 5 days. (It was hot out, so it didn’t take long. At more reasonable temperatures it’d probably take a week or so.)

It turned out really well—delightfully tangy and mustardy. We ate it on goat burgers with roasted peppers the other day. The boy kept shaking his head and saying “Mmm.” He ate three.


  1. The Herbwife’s Kitchen » Preserving the harvest: peppers aren’t patient either. said,

    September 16, 2007 @ 2:11 pm

    […] burgers with roasted peppers and zucchini relish? So good.) Share […]

  2. chasmyn said,

    September 19, 2007 @ 5:26 pm

    What a fantastic idea! I’m going to make this!

  3. crabappleherbs said,

    September 19, 2007 @ 7:32 pm

    Thanks, Chasmyn! Let me know how it goes!

  4. Angie said,

    September 21, 2007 @ 5:15 pm

    WOW yum! I was just brought in a huge zucchini now I know what to do with it!

  5. rebekka said,

    October 15, 2007 @ 3:21 pm

    Wow…sounds delicious. I’m a big fan of Wild Fermentation…and zuchinni. I wish I had already done this 🙂

  6. Greensinger said,

    August 9, 2008 @ 4:30 pm

    I suspected that there had to be some way to dispose of all of those zucchini, but hadn’t yet tried to pickle them. I was thinking of trying them whole, like cucumber pickles, but this sounds more promising (I may still try one jar of zucchini pickles, though). Now I can tell my friends in the north country they can unlock their car doors!

  7. jennifer said,

    August 30, 2008 @ 8:00 pm

    If I’m not mistaken, I believe that cherry leaves have a poisonous property.
    You might want to check this.

  8. crabappleherbs said,

    September 9, 2008 @ 4:07 pm

    Wilted cherry leaves are not edible, but if you pick them fresh you should be able to include a leaf or two in a jar of pickles without a problem.

  9. Amelia said,

    August 6, 2010 @ 10:54 am

    Hi there!
    I was inspired by your recipe and modified it slightly for my own, which is just fermenting now. the post about it is here:
    thanks for inspiring the world into fermenting more!

  10. Tanya said,

    May 20, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

    Is it okay to use any leaves in my garden as the sealing leaf?
    Also, are there any kitchen herbs that I shouldn’t use in fermented cucumbers or zucchini? I’m surprised garlic doesn’t kill the beneficial bacteria that do the work and that is what makes me think that other herbs might not hurt it. I did read that some herbs kill Kombucha scobies for this reason.
    Thank you for sharing!

  11. Domin Aalbers said,

    September 20, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

    What is the self life once it is done and in the fridge?

  12. MiniGardens said,

    September 23, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

    how about adding a bit of sugar. Going for the sweet hot thing.

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  14. Just Local Foods » From Field to Fork said,

    July 30, 2012 @ 11:39 am

    […] Pickled Mustard Greens, Herbal Heirloom Tomato Pickles, and Rosemary and Sage Zucchini Pickles) Fermented Zucchini Relish – The Herbwife’s […]

  15. Just Local Foods » Farm to Fork said,

    August 23, 2012 @ 8:40 am

    […] Pickled Mustard Greens, Herbal Heirloom Tomato Pickles, and Rosemary and Sage Zucchini Pickles) Fermented Zucchini Relish – The Herbwife’s […]

  16. Vicki said,

    May 24, 2013 @ 11:55 am

    Sounds good…but how did you grate your zucchini?…in the pics it looks fairly large pieces…also could you advise for a newby approximate amounts, i.e. cups of zucchini vs. salt and spices. thanks.

  17. system said,

    September 7, 2015 @ 6:19 pm


    The Herbwife?s Kitchen » Preserving the harvest: zucchini relish.

  18. 43 Fermented & Probiotic-Filled Condiments — Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS said,

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