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.
MAGGIE’S REFRIGERATOR ZUCCHINI PICKLES
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!