What a great spring and summer we are having! I have enjoyed watching things grow from seed to blooming plants to ready to harvest. Speaking of harvesting, let’s talk a little about zucchini. This vegetable seems to be one that is easily grown and has a tendency of being very abundant this time of year. I love to research ways to preserve food. Whether you are preserving food just until you can eat it, or storing it for the zombie apocalypse, knowing how to get the most out of your food is a skill not everyone has. Zucchini is a great vegetable that can be preserved in many different ways.
Dehydration: One of my favorite methods is to dehydrate it into chips. You start by slicing your zucchini into uniform and thin slices. A mandolin is a great tool for this but makes sure you use the slicing guard or you may lose a fingertip! Whether you peel your vegetables or not is a personal choice; I generally don’t peel mine, and these chips come out great! Once you have your zucchini sliced, season it to your liking. Plain salt is always a winner; if you are feeling adventurous, try ranch, Cajun, dill, Greek, or anything else your little heart desires. Once you have your vegetables seasoned, lay them in a flat single layer on your dehydrator set to 125 – 135 degrees Fahrenheit. It will take anywhere from 5-11 hours depending on humidity, your machine, the thickness of your slices, etc. Just check them after a few hours and let them go until crisp. Rumor is that these chips will last for quite a while if you vacuum seal them in jars but, honestly, I’ve never had them last longer than a few days around my house.
Freezing is a great method of preserving if you have the space. Just be sure to blanch your zucchini if you want to stick it in the freezer for later use. If you like to make Zucchini Bread, you can go ahead and shred your zucchini and store it in 2-cup containers for future use. Another great way of storing those mountains of zucchini is to make Zucchini butter.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 5 garlic cloves gently smashed
- 2 large zucchini cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 2 pounds)
- 5-6 sprigs of thyme or rosemary is also good here
- 1/2 teaspoon finely milled sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Place a large skillet over medium heat. Place the olive oil and butter and allow them to melt together. Roughly chop the smashed garlic and add it to the pan. Add the zucchini cubes.
- Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the zucchini, has begun to soften. Strip the herb leaves off their stems and add them to the pan.
- Reduce the heat and continue to cook, stirring often. The goal is to cook the liquid out of the zucchini and melt it into a flavorful, spreadable paste. If, at any point, the zucchini starts to brown and stick, add a splash of liquid (water is fine, though if you have an open bottle, a little white wine is also delicious) and reduce the heat a bit more.
- Total cooking time should be right around an hour.
- Once cooked, divide the spread between two half-pint jars. It will keep up to 2 weeks in the fridge or a year in the freezer.
Pickling: Zucchini pickles are an amazing alternative to cucumber pickles. They seem to hold their texture and I haven’t found a pickle recipe that doesn’t work with these. PS: Yellow squash could be used here too!
Curried Pickled Zucchini (from Serious Eats)
- 2 1/2 pounds zucchini
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 tablespoons pickling salt
- 1 tablespoon madras curry powder
- 1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- Wash the zucchini and then, using a mandolin, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices.
- In a large pot, combine apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, salt, curry powder, mustard seeds, and turmeric, and bring to a boil. Add zucchini slices. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until the liquid returns to a boil and the zucchini starts to turn yellow.
- Pack zucchini slices into prepared pint jars and cover with liquid. Use a chopstick to ensure there aren’t any air bubbles trapped between the zucchini slices. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes. When time is up, remove jars from the canner and place on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
- When jars have returned to room temperature, remove rings and test seals. Sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to one year. If any jars did not seal, place in the refrigerator and use promptly. Let pickles remain in jars for at least 48 hours before opening.
There is something fulfilling about being able to store your food for use in new and exciting ways. I love knowing that I can serve homemade Zucchini bread in December, or have a taste of summer with a homemade relish during those cold months.
Source: Ryanne Harper, Farmer’s Cooperative, Seed and Sow Summer 2022 Edition