Zucchini Pickles, Cafe Zuni Style

By Jeannette Ordas of Everybody likes Sandwiches

I love making quick pickles, quickles for short. And the last time I made some for Poppytalk readers was way back in 2009! Let's remedy that, stat. Okay? Okay.

One of the easiest vegetables to wrangle right now is zucchini. My farm share is going nutso with it and besides living on zucchini bread (which is a nice way to live, by the way), I've got to mix things up. So I'm making these sweet and sour zucchini pickles from the Zuni Cafe

The best thing about them - well besides being mighty tasty on an open-face hummus sandwich or slipped into a burger - is that they take 1 day from making to eating. Super easy! And, I might add, they turn a bright chartreuse colour because of the turmeric. A little public service announcement about turmeric: it stains. So don't wear your nicest white blouse while making these. 

Some notes about the recipe. I had a lot of brine leftover and I think you could bump up the amount of zucchini from 1 pound to 1 1/2 pounds with no issues. Much of the liquid is sucked out of these during the making and that huge bowl of sliced zucchini shrinks quickly. I also added some red pepper along with the onions and zucchini because I thought it would help make the jars look pretty. I was right. 

Also, mustard seeds are a bit of a pain to crush in a pestle and mortar. If you have a spice grinder, you are luckier than I. Use it. 

Or maybe my mustard seeds were a bit on the old side. Work it!

These may seem like a lot of work, but you can have all the prep done in under an hour. Then you can pack the pretty jars in the fridge and wait it out. It's only a day, right? 

Pickled Zucchini, Zuni Cafe Style
These are refrigerator pickles, so you want the brine to be cool before you pack the pickles in jars. Hot brine will cook the pickles & you could rob these of their lovely tender snap. Also, processing these are out of the question. Enjoy a simple fridge ready pickle for what it is. If you want to reduce the sugar or replace it with honey, I think you'd be fine - just taste the brine as you go. 

1 lb zucchini or a mix of summer squash (or a bit more - up to 1 1/2 lbs)
1 small onion
1 red pepper
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow or brown mustard seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Wash and dry zucchini, remove stems. Using a mandoline (or a whole lot of patience) slice the zucchini, onion and pepper into 1/8" slices. You know, thin, but not paper thin (though, you could do that too). 

Add in the salt and toss everything together with your hands. Add in some ice cubes and cover with cold water. Let everything sit about for 1 hour. 

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat vinegar, dry mustard, mustard seeds and turmeric over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and let the sugar melt. Remove from heat and let cool. 

To cool things off quickly, I like to pour the pickling liquid into a tall tumbler, place it in a bowl and then pour in some ice water and ice cubes. Place in fridge to cool. 20 minutes (or less) should do it. 

Drain the pickles using a colander and press out any excess liquid. Lay out a clean dish towel and then grab a handful of the zucchini mixture, give it a good squeeze with your hands and then lay out evenly over the towel. Repeat until all the vegetables are laid out. Press another clean dish towel over top. You want these dry (or maybe I'm just a little bit particular about these things). 

Spoon some of the liquid into two half pint jars - just an inch or so, and pack each jar with vegetables. Pour over the brine and fill, leaving about a 1/2" gap from the top. Screw on lid and refrigerate for a day. Should keep in the fridge for 1 month.

Jan Halvarson


One bolt short of a toolbox said...

Looks delicious!

Jan @Door251

Erica said...

I'd probably love making pickles too, because I love eating them ;)

Mihaeko said...

Pickles so make the meal. Perfect time of year to be thinking this way!

Anonymous said...

Chris asks: These pickles look delish! Can they be canned?

kickpleat said...

Chris, I mention in the recipe headnote that these cannot be canned - the heat will spoil their crunch. Perhaps look for another zucchini recipe geared for canning. But do try this fridge version, it's delicious.

Maggie said...

Thanks for this great recipe! Maggie xx