This zucchini relish recipe is a favorite around here. It’s good on burgers and hot dogs, but excellent for mixing into potato salad, tuna salad, or egg salad for an extra burst of flavor, too.
Got more zucchini than you know what to do with? Try our favorite chocolate zucchini bread, too!
When zucchini season is upon us, it’s often a challenge to figure out just what to do with all of that abundance. Zucchini — otherwise known as summer squash — is a crop that just keeps on giving.
When you’ve exhausted your repertoire of ways to eat it as part of your daily menu plan, consider preserving some of your extra zucchini for the winter with this easy zucchini relish. Home canning this relish makes it shelf stable so you can enjoy it all year long.
Nostalgic Zucchini Relish Recipe
Remember Del Monte hamburger relish? Talk about a blast from the past. This relish recipe, made from zucchini, tastes just like the Del Monte version. It’s sweet and somewhat tangy, but uses only wholesome ingredients that may very well have come out of your garden.
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It’s great on burgers, of course, but I use it to add extra flavor to things like egg salad, deviled eggs, potato salad, and even mixed into meatloaf.
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We’re not the only ones who love this sweet zucchini relish recipe, though. Sarah over at Horseradish and Honey gave it a solid thumbs up over on Instagram.
Zucchini — This is the star of the recipe! Use fresh zucchini; if you’re using a large zucchini that got away from you, use a spoon to scoop out the spongy seed center.
Red bell peppers — The red pepper provides flavor as well as sweetness. Do not substitute with a green bell pepper; a yellow or orange pepper could work, but I haven’t tried it.
Onion — I typically use a yellow onion, but you can use any kind of bulb onion you have on hand — white, yellow, or red.
Salt — Salting the ingredients and allowing them to stand overnight pulls the moisture from the vegetables. You’ll rinse them and drain off much of the added salt before processing. Use canning salt, kosher salt, or sea salt — avoid salt that is iodized or treated with anti-caking agents.
Jalapeño pepper — Adding jalapeños to the relish gives a very mild spice and a lovely flavor. It won’t be too spicy for tender mouths, promise. (Like it hotter? Feel free to substitute more fiery hot peppers!)
Vinegar — You can use distilled white vinegar here, or apple cider vinegar. I’ve used both.
Sugar — Use your favorite brand of granulated cane sugar. I prefer organic.
Seasonings — The addition of turmeric powder, mustard seeds, black pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg round out the flavors.
Making this recipe
Day 1: Chop the zucchini, onions, and peppers. You can chop by hand or use a food processor to pulse the vegetables into a fine dice. I like to aim for an 1/8″ dice, but if you like slightly larger chunks in your relish, that’s completely fine.
Combine the chopped vegetables and salt in a large bowl. Refrigerate overnight; this causes the vegetables to release some of their natural juices, preventing the relish from having too much liquid.
The next day: Drain and rinse the zucchini mixture and combine with the remaining ingredients in a large pot. Cook and simmer over medium high heat.
To preserve as a shelf stable pantry item, you’ll need to process the relish in a water bath canner. This isn’t difficult to do, but you will need some specialized canning equipment.
Hot Water Bath Canning this Zucchini Relish
Canning this relish in a water bath canner makes it a shelf stable product that can last a year or so in the pantry.
Once the relish is ready, ladle it into canning jars while it’s still hot. You can use 1/2 pint or pint jars. I have a canning funnel for this purpose, that makes it easier to transfer hot products into the jars without a lot of mess.
Use a bubble remover or plastic knife to remove any visible air bubbles.
Use a damp cloth to wipe the rim of each jar; a little bit of food on the jar rim can prevent the lids from sealing properly. Set the lids in place and screw the bands on finger tight. Use a jar lifter to transfer jars into the gently boiling water. As stated above, the water in the pot should cover the jars by two inches. If necessary add more water to the canner.
Process jars for the recommended time. (See below.) When time is up, use the jar lifter to transfer jars to a flat surface that’s padded with a kitchen towel. Allow jars to cool completely. As they cool, you’ll begin to hear a canner’s favorite sound: That lovely little tink! that indicates a successful seal.
Storing Jars of Zucchini Relish
Once jars of relish are thoroughly cooled, check the seal on all of the jars. The lid should be concave and solid. If it flexes at all, it’s not sealed. (Place any jars that didn’t seal in the refrigerator and use them first. They are not shelf stable.)
Remove bands from cooled jars and rinse the jars. Store jars without the bands.
Remove the jars from the canner and cool; you’ll hear a little “tink!” as each seals. The lids should feel taut and somewhat concave. These are safe to store at room temperature. Any that don’t seal should be refrigerated and used first.
🍅 Safety First!
Canning is an excellent way to preserve food for the pantry, but there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind. The recipes on this site have been made following safe canning procedures by a certified Master Food Preserver.
- Know the difference between water bath canning and pressure canning. Low acid items must be pressure canned for safety.
- Altering ingredients may change the recipe’s pH, posing a safety issue. I highly recommend investing in pH paper to test your products for acidity level when canning. Note: For safe water bath canning, the Hawaii Master Food Preservers suggest a pH of 4.2 or lower in the tropics. In other regions, the recommended pH is 4.6 or lower.
- Use the proper jars and lids. Never reuse lids, with the exception of the Tattler or Harvest Right hard plastic lids that are intended for such a purpose.
- For more on canning equipment, please go here.
- Want to learn more? The National Center for Home Food Preservation is the go-to resource for safe canning information.
★ Did you make this zucchini relish? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★
Make the relish:
- If you have a food processor you can just toss roughly chopped zucchini, onions, and peppers into the bowl of the processor and pulse until they're a good size. I like mine in about 1/8 - 1/4" pieces. If you don't have a food processor, just chop them finely by hand.
- Combine chopped zucchini, onion, peppers, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well. Chill overnight.
- Place in a colander to drain; rinse thoroughly and drain again.
- Transfer to a large stock pot and add remaining ingredients; bring just to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. At this point, the relish is done. You can just put it in jars and then in the refrigerator to use right away or give as gifts.
- If you'd like your relish to be shelf stable, you'll need to process it.
Prepare for Canning
- Wash the jars you'll use, making sure each is clean and free of nicks in the rim, which could impede sealing.
- Wash the lids and rings in hot soapy water. (If you're using non-Ball brand lids, prepare as suggested by manufacturer.)
- Place empty jars in a canning pot or large stock pot with enough water to cover by an inch or two, cover pot, and set on high heat. It can take awhile for the water to heat, so get it started when you start heating the relish.
Canning the zucchini relish:
- Remove empty jars from canner, draining water back into pot.
- Ladle hot relish into pint or half-pint jars, leaving 1/2" head space. A canning funnel makes this easy.
- Use a bubble remover or plastic knife to remove any visible bubbles.
- Wipe jar rims to remove any relish that may have spilled. A clean rim is essential to a good seal.
- Set jar lids in place. Screw bands on finger tight.
- Use a jar lifter to lower jars into hot water in canning pot. Water should cover the top of the jars by two inches. The water will cool somewhat in reaction to the addition of the jars. Return the water to a simmer and set the timer.
- Process for 15 minutes 0-6,000 feet altitude; 20 minutes over 6,000 feet.
- Allow jars to cool overnight.
- Check for seal: the lids should feel solid and slightly indented. If they flex, that are not shelf stable and should be refrigerated and used first.
- Wash jars, remove rings, and store in a cool, dry place for a year.
The red pepper provides flavor as well as sweetness. Do not substitute with a green bell pepper; a yellow or orange pepper could work, but I haven't tried it.
This recipe tested at 3.0 pH, making it safe for water bath canning.
Boiling lids or heating above 180°F as once recommended can damage the sealing compound.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 100 Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 16Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 0gSugar: 3gProtein: 0g