just a smidgen

The Best Zucchini Relish Recipe


Zucchini Relish 1AThis post is contributing to the Canadian Food Experience Project.

The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7, 2013. As participants across Canada share our collective stories through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity.

November 2013: The Canadian Harvest in Southern Alberta

Almost anyone can harvest zucchini from their gardens here, not that I’ve ever tried in my tiny little veggie patch,
but there’s always plenty available at the Farmer’s Market.

It must be easy to grow because it seems zucchini is one of the most “gifted”vegetables.

For years my family has been making this zucchini relish, I think it’s the best zucchini relish recipe and so does my family.
Try as we might, store bought relishes just don’t come close.

This beloved family recipe came from my parent’s neighbor, Avril
{ along with a few zucchinis } and they’ve been making it ever since.

We love this relish with ham, on sandwiches, wraps and well, with almost everything.

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The best part for those of you who are afraid to preserve jams and relishes, these jars just pop in the freezer when you’re done!

I decided it was time I learned how to make my own and to stop begging for a jar after every summer with my parents at Mabel Lake.

I made one failed attempt years ago and I believe I substituted celery salt for celery seed,
needless to say it was inedible, so make sure you don’t make the same mistake I did.
The celery seed adds a lovely flavor to the relish that you will, er, relish!

In preparation, I stopped in at one of my favorite antique shops to source out a large crock.
I was happy to find one in fairly new condition { number 3 } since I would be using it to prepare food,
I didn’t want one that had cracks, etc.

This one was definitely  large enough to handle a double batch of relish!

As I recall 4 fairly large (not massive) zucchini made one batch as did two large onions.

The Best Zucchini Relish Recipe
Cook time
Total time
First Day
  • 10 cups zucchini (not peeled)
  • 4 cups onions
  • 5 tablespoons salt, regular
Next day
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 3 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tbsp celery seed (NOT salt)
  • 4 tbsp cornstarch mixed with cold water
  1. Using your food processor, add large chunks of zucchini and blend just until all is a fairly fine dice. Be careful not too over blend or your zucchini will puree. Measure and spoon into the crock. Repeat and measure until you have 10 cups of zucchini in total. Then do the same with the onions, process until they are a fine dice and repeat until you have 4 cups of onions in total.
  2. Stir in 5 tablespoons of salt, mixing thoroughly. Seal with plastic wrap and set aside overnight. We often set ours outside because it can have such a strong smell, but if you keep the plastic wrap on tight that shouldn't be a problem.
  3. After 24 hours, scoop a few cups into a fine meshed sieve. I used a chinois sieve. Rinse over and over with cold water, pressing the diced zucchini mixture until the salt is rinsed off and the water and juices are pressed out. If you get a bit carried away you might end up with a drier mixture, but this can be adjusted at cooking time. Once the mixture is rinsed, scoop it into a large pot.
  4. Repeat until all the zucchini is rinsed and in your pot. Then add everything from the vinegar through to the cornstarch mixed with water. Stir to mix thoroughly.
  5. Cook for approximately 30 minutes, adding water as needed. Our zucchini mixtures required quite a bit of water, several cups to keep it moist while the zucchini cooked. You can test after 30 minutes to see if it is done by putting a little spoonful on a plate in the freezer for a few seconds. It should hold it's shape and when tasting, the zucchini should not feel "chewy" or raw to bite.
  6. Allow to cool slightly and then scoop and funnel into washed and dried jars and lids. * Please leave ample "head room" in the jar so that the contents have room to expand.* We filled ours just to the bottom of the rings for the lid.
  7. Let cool and then move to the freezer. Refrigerate once opened.

These photos were taken on the second day, after the zucchini, onion and salt mixture sat over night on the kitchen counter.
I invited my parents over so I could watch how it’s done and take notes.
{ I promise I don’t always put them to work, but it is fun to cook together! }

Zucchini Relish 1

Here we’ve scooped out a few cupfuls of relish and are rinsing it in the sink. Out at the lake, my dad takes the entire crock outside and uses a hose to rinse away the salt.

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Once you’ve rinsed the salt out, you have to press vigorously to get the moisture out of the relish before moving it to a large pot.

Zucchini Relish 2

This “bouillion/chinois” sieve really got the moisture out, so we had to adjust by adding water when we were cooking the relish.

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Because we doubled the recipe you see written above, we had two pots going and both parents stirred while I took photos.

Zucchini Relish 5

We discovered at this point we needed to keep adding water while it cooked. Near the 30 minute mark, we put a little on a plate into the freezer for a few seconds to see if the relish had set.

We also discovered that the KitchenAid pot didn’t conduct heat as evenly as the Henckels.

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That meant my mom had to keep stirring… and stirring.. with that batch.

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Here the jars are all lined up ready to fill with a canning funnel. We thought the metal spoon would keep the jars from cracking when the hot relish was spooned in, but in the end we abandoned doing that and the jars were fine.

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Then you just fill up the jars!

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Here they are, this is two batches worth, 9 x 500 ml jars and 2 x 250 ml.

The Best Zucchini Relish 2

I always think a jar of homemade jam, jellies or relish are such a lovely hostess gift when attending Christmas house parties!

Remember if you are looking for a little Christmas (or any time) gift inspiration to check out my project gallery page for ideas.

Zucchini Relish 1B

Love, Smidge 5


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