Too Much Zucchini! Canning Sweet Relish

Update: If canning is your “thing” be sure to visit my new growing, canning, and preserving site at Seed to Pantry. I’ll be adding new canning tips and techniques on a regular basis!

The harvest is winding down.  All my garden peaches have been picked and either frozen or turned into preserves, the last of the string beans will be pulled this week, the corn bed is emptied and ready for planting next spring. But the zucchini seems to have gained a second life and is growing like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors. I love zucchini, but even I can’t keep up with it. So, I just pretend the zucchini are cucumbers and make sweet pickle relish! I’ve done this for years and no one has ever noticed that my delicious home made hot dog relish was missing cucumbers. If you are blessed (or cursed) with too many zucchini you can can your own relish too. Here’s how:

bell peppers, onion, zucchini

bell peppers, onion, zucchini

Dice zucchini until you have about 4 cups total. If you use really large zucchini, scoop out the seeds first. It’s not necessary to peel. I used a combination of regular green and yellow zucchini here. Chop 1 really large onion (Walla Walla sweet), 1 large green bell pepper and 1 large red bell pepper.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of canning salt and cover with cold water. Let sit 2 hours.

After 2 hours drain and thoroughly rinse the vegetable mixture. In a large pot, combine 2 cups of cider vinegar, 3 1/2 cups sugar, 1 Tbsp mustard seed and 1 Tbsp celery seed. Bring to a boil, add the drained vegetable mixture and simmer for 10 minutes.

Vegetables combined with spices and vinegar

Vegetables combined with spices and vinegar

Ladle hot mixture into 8 half-pint jars. Adjust the two-piece caps and process in the water bath canner for 10 minutes. Remove from the canner and let cool. As with all pickled products, the relish will have increased flavor if allowed to sit for three weeks before using.

Relish wearing "hats".

Relish wearing “hats”.

As you can see, my jars are wearing relish “hats”. This is not the desired outcome. One of the jars broke when I added them to the canner. Sometimes this happens if you are using old jars that have been processed several times before, but this was a brand new box of canning jars. There was either a crack in the jar that I didn’t notice or a flaw. Either way, the bottom came out  and I lost a jar of relish. If this happens to you (and it will sooner or later if you do much canning) there’s not much you can do while the batch is processing. Remove the other jars after the proper amount of time and let the whole mess in the canner cool. Be careful with the broken glass. If a jar breaks while making jam or syrup, the other jars will be sticky. Carefully wash them off after they cool and before storing.

Good luck with your zucchini relish. Home made relish is so much more flavorful than purchased that no one will ever know they are eating zucchini!

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About the Author

Renee Pottle, an author and heart-healthy educator, loves to explore and write about the Mediterranean Diet. She blogs at and

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