Yes, you read it right – pickled zucchini! You might be thinking how is this possible and that zucchini would go mushy but you will be surprised at the crunchiness and amazing flavor of these zucchini preserves. The process is simple and quite honestly how a lot of the preserves we make are started – a simple brine. In Italian, we call this type of preserve ‘sottaceto’ which translates to under vinegar.
The vegetable, in this case, zucchini, sits in the brine for a given amount of time and is then pressed or squeezed of the brine and stored in jars filled with oil and can sit on a shelf for quite a while. A popular version of this that is much more common is giardiniera. Most people don’t think of trying it with zucchini in fear of it going to mush but you will be pleasantly surprised! This is a small batch that makes 3-250mL jars but can easily be multiplied.
You can thank Italian immigrants for this versatile fruit. Zucchini descend from squash that was first domesticated in Mesoamerica over 7000 years ago. The zucchini we know and love was bred and cultivated in Italy and later brought back over to the Americas by Italian immigrants. They are rich in folate, potassium, and vitamin A so they are definitely a good addition to your meal planning! Oh, and did I mention how versatile they are? Raw, cooked, steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed, baked, fried, sweet, or savory – yeah there’s a lot you can do with zucchini! Now you can add pickled to that as well! Pickling zucchini isn’t something new. Without refrigeration and the shipping of food all over the world, pickling was one of many ways Italians and people around the world would preserve their precious harvest. After all, vinegar is as old as civilization itself!
On to the zucchini. Like anything you are going to preserve, you want to do it with produce as fresh as possible. So whether you have an abundance in your garden or are heading to the market make sure you get them prepped and into the brine as soon as possible. There are different types of zucchini and all that I have tried have worked well. You don’t want them too big but if that is all you have then cut out the seedy center before chopping and soaking in the brine. You’ll want to have a good amount of zucchini since once you’ve finished with them what once seemed like a heaping bowl will only amount to a couple of small jars. Preserves that are done in this way need to be ‘squeezed’. This step removes a lot of the vinegar and skipping this step results in a very strong vinegar taste and different texture. There are various ways to squeeze out the brine. You can press a handful at a time in your hands, press it under weight in cheesecloth or a colander, or if you’re like us and do a lot of preserves it is so worth investing in a vegetable press or ‘torchietto’. Basically, these are like mini wine presses made out of stainless steel and use a screw crank to press the liquid out. We can’t recommend this tool enough!
Give it a shot and let us know what you think!
Crisp and full of flavour – this Italian recipe for pickled zucchini is a must-have on any shelf!
4 small zucchini, 7 cups chopped
1/4 cup pickling salt
3 cups vinegar
2 large garlic cloves minced
2 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp hot chili flakes – optional
1 tbsp finely chopped mint
3–250mL sterilized jars with lids
Light olive oil to fill jars.
Wash the zucchini well, cut in half or quarters lengthwise depending on the size and chop into 1.5cm chunks. If the zucchini is large remove the seeds from the center.
Put the chopped zucchini in a large bowl. Add the salt and mix together. Pour in the vinegar until the zucchini is covered. Cover with a tea towel or loose fitting lid and let sit for 24 hours.
Prepare your jars.
Squeeze the liquid from the zucchini very well. Use your hands to squeeze a handful at a time or a vegetable press.
Place the squeezed zucchini in a bowl and add the garlic, oregano, chili flakes, and mint. Add 1/4 cup of oil and mix very well to disperse the herbs and garlic. At this point taste a piece and make sure it is salty enough to your liking. You can add a bit if you like.
Cover and refrigerate for immediate use or gently pack the jars with the zucchini and fill them with oil for storage.
- Category: preserves
- Method: pickling
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: pickled, zucchini, italian recipes, italian food