August 4th, 2010

Maggie’s Refrigerator Zucchini Pickles



A few summers ago, Maggie’s garden caught her by surprise. All at once, her zucchini plants began producing in quantities that quickly grew beyond manageable. Garden Leviathans!

Sure, everything started off fine: Maggie kept up, preparing dinners of ratatouille, breakfasts of zucchini muffins and quickbreads, handing out baskets of lumbering green squash to her friends. But, it didn’t let up. Each day she was shocked to find a mob, a frenzy, a zeal of zucchini!

“A garden will teach you,” she later said. “That’s the last year I plant them all at the same time. Stagger your plantings. Or have a kitchen factory ready to go.”

Sound advice. But, in the meantime, she wanted to find some other clever use for all those zukes. She had been making bread-and-butter pickles with her modest cucumber crop…..couldn’t zucchinis work just as well in their place?


A little scrolling around the internet confirmed her suspicions.

And, she had all the pickle-fixin’s in her pantry: cider vinegar, sugar, and salt, plus mustard seed, celery seed, and bright finger-staining turmeric.

In dervish-mode, she swirled those ingredients together, and boiled them long enough to make glazy brine.


While the brine cooled, she sliced her zucchini trove into rings, layering gallon sized jars. She poured the sweet-sour liquid, screwed on the lids, and stashed her pickle experiment into the fridge. Then, she let out a sigh of relief. Now, the wait….

It takes about a week for them to “cure.” Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?

Soon after the curing time was complete, I drove out to her country place for a visit. She couldn’t wait to have me sample her discovery.


I wasn’t sure about them—but one bite and I was sold. Tender yet crunchy, sweet-sour flavored with mild mustard seed bite. They tasted better than “regular” cucumber-based pickles. I loved the pickled onion in there, too. Versatile:You can make them with different zucchini varieties. Like Black Beauty, Cocozelle, or those charmingly named Buttersticks.

We had them for lunch. It was the sort of lunch that you have in the country on a hot summer afternoon. You sit in the kitchen with the lights off. You select your garden’s finest, and eat to be cool.

Like a ripe peach, sliced into a small bowl and topped with yogurt.

And fat red slab of tomato, open-faced on toasted whole grain bread, (a swipe of mayo) topped with a few coins of zucchini pickle, and onion.

Hmmmmm…….I’m feeling cooler already.



Layer into a clean gallon glass jar:
3 quarts Zucchini, sliced 1/4″ thick
1 quart Onions, sliced in 1/4″ thick rings or half-rings

Bring to a boil, and continue boiling for 5 minutes:
4 cups Sugar
2 cups Cider Vinegar
1 cup Water
1/4 cup Kosher Salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Celery Seed
1 1/2 teaspoons Mustard Seed
1 teaspoon Turmeric

Allow to cool, then pour over zucchini and onions. Cap and refrigerate.
Let them sit for a week, so that the flavors will develop.
Yield: a little over 3 quarts

This will keep for months, if they last that long!


Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Recipes, Vegetables

18 Responses to “Maggie’s Refrigerator Zucchini Pickles”
  1. Fresh Cucumber » Good Food Matters » Blog Archive » Maggie's Refrigerator Zucchini … Says:

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  2. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    I love zucchini pickles. We made ours with yellow crookneck squash. I like the mix of colors in Maggie’s jars. The bread in the photographs looks pretty nice too. Do I see caraway seeds?

  3. Tracy Says:

    Your posts are PURE PERFECTION. I wanted to be sitting in that kitchen with the lights off, eating to be cool. Just amazing. You inspire :)

  4. Michele Napoli Says:

    A wonderful way to spend a summer afternoon with a friend–eating her garden’s harvest is such delectable ways. Just beautiful!

  5. Maggie Says:

    Nance, as always, I am honored to inspire you, my food friend!! The pictures really do the pickles proud! And now, we need to come up with something for a bounty of okra!!!

  6. nancy Says:

    Zucchini pickles — yum! A great idea for a summer bounty of zukes, and I love the spice combination. I just set up my first batch of salt-brined pickles last night… hope they turn out to be edible!

  7. Fluffy Says:

    these pickles are the BEST. my favorites. love them on a veggie burger.

  8. Mary Says:

    This is the mother lode! Your pickles look amazing and beg to be tried. It is a lovely recipe and the finished product is a wonderfully colored work of art. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

  9. Tammy Says:

    Looks like a great way to use up a lot of zucchini which I often have to do. They are also beautiful in the jar. I just don’t know if I’d like them very much.

  10. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Denise—I don’t think there are caraway seeds, but that multi-grain whole wheat bread had a lot goin’ on with it…

    Tracy–you make me smile

    Michele-you are so right, it is one of my favorite things to do!

    Mag–we will have to get on the case with them okree!

    nancy—I hope you’ll post about your batch of salt-brined pickles

    Tammy–I’m not much of a pickle-person, so I didn’t think I’d like them very much, and I was surprised by how much I do like them.

  11. Cristie Says:

    Oh, my goodness something to do with all my squash! I have got to print this off and get busy right away. Thanks so much for this inspiration. I’ve never seen this and you know, I’m not a spring chicken. Delicious!

    I have a give-a-way on my blog you might be interested in. A darling cookbook with whimsical pictures of mother and daughters.

  12. FOODESSA Says:

    Nancy…how wonderful for you to share this unique pickling recipe. The sweet brine is so interesting. I’ve never made anything close to this type of produce keeping. You certainly gave me something to think about. What a great way to preserve our memorable garden moments.
    These must be beautiful also with the candles on ;o)

    Have yourself a wonderful week,

  13. claudia @ cook eat FRET Says:

    i so wanta be the woman who does such things but alas, i am the woman who buys such things…

    photo’s are gorgeous. i need to learn my camera. if i make/buy you lunch will you give me a lesson?

  14. Kelli Says:

    Thanks to a plethora a produce (via a visit back home to Michigan), my fridge was filled with zucchini. I went back to last year’s summer posts for the “faux zucchini crab cakes” for inspiration. What a treat! They were so delicious – even my meat-eating husband agreed. I already have another batch mixed up and ready to fry for dinner this week.

  15., Teresa Blackburn Says:

    I don’t know how I missed this one? But what a great way to use those ubiquitous zucchinis!

  16. deeba Says:

    Who would have thought of this? WOW! This is a wonderful recipe, and thank you for sharing it. I’d better make some soon … looks so inviting!

  17. It’s Not Cheesecake Says:

    [...] Zucchini Pickles [...]

  18. All things in moderation, except zucchini – Late Bloomers Farm Says:

    [...] followed Maggie’s refrigerator zucchini recipe, as written but halved. I probably should have packed the zucchini tighter, because I ended up [...]

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