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Farm Fresh: Zucchini beats cucumbers in contest of crisp pickles

Thursday, July 24, 2003

By Rebecca Sodergren

Visiting friends for lunch one afternoon several years ago, we enjoyed a beef roast and side dishes, including wonderful bread-and-butter pickles.

But they weren't cucumbers -- they were zucchini.

This struck me as ingenious. At least one summer during my youth, I can recall the women of the family getting frustrated with pickles that turned out mushy. But zucchini is a drier vegetable than cucumber, so it stands to reason that you'd have a better chance of keeping a little crunch in your pickle if you used zucchini.

So I shamelessly begged for the recipe, and now I share it with you. If there's one crop people always seem to be looking to get rid of every summer, it's zucchini. I've found that, unlike baskets of fresh zucchini from the garden, I can actually give people gifts of these pickles without having them run screaming in the other direction. They're delicious.

Zucchini Pickles

  • 6 medium white onions, sliced

  • 4 quarts zucchini, sliced (we use half zucchi- ni and half yellow squash for added color)
  • 1 green pepper, sliced in strips
  • 1 red pepper, sliced in strips
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 2 trays ice cubes
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seed

Slice onions, zucchini and peppers. Layer with salt and ice cubes in large stock pot, ending with ice cubes. Let stand three hours, adding more ice part-way through if most of the initial ice seems to have melted.

Meanwhile, wash 8 pint-size canning jars. About 20 minutes before the end of the three-hour sitting time for the vegetables, place the jars on a cookie sheet and place in cool oven. Turn oven on to 250 degrees. Remove from oven when ready to ladle pickles into them.

Boil canning jar lids.

Drain ice water from vegetables. Combine vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed and mustard seed. Pour mixture over sliced vegetables. Heat just to boiling.

Fill hot jars with hot pickles and brine. Put on hot lids. Turn jars upside down for five to 10 minutes or longer. Jars will seal themselves.

Makes 8 pints.

Rebecca Sodergren is a Wichita Falls, Texas, freelance writer.

If you have a fruit or vegetable that you would like to see featured, please call food editor Suzanne Martinson at 412-263-1760 or e-mail We're also looking for easy-to-make, quick recipes that highlight the fabulous flavors of fresh produce. Send to Farm Fresh, PG Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

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