This recipe for canning zucchini sweet and sour pickles features turmeric in the simple brine. Pickling is a great way to preserve summer zucchini from the garden!
Overwhelmed with zucchini? Preserve the zucchini harvest bounty by canning zucchini pickles with this sweet and sour zucchini pickles recipe.
Tips for Canning Zucchini Pickles
Select firm, slender, and young zucchini for pickling: Aim for fruit that is about 2 inches in diameter and 8 inches long. The zucchini should be bright colored and free of blemishes, soft spots, and wrinkled skin. Ideally, harvest just before canning for the best quality. If you need to collect zucchini for a full batch, store the unwashed zucchini in the refrigerator crisper draw for up to 3 days. Wash the zucchini well in cool running water before preparing it for pickles.
Any type of onions will work for this recipe: I like using red onions to add a bit of color and extra sweetness, but yellow or white onions are also delicious pickled. The brine mellows the flavor of even the most pungent onion.
Use pickling salt: Be sure to use pickling salt, also known as canning salt. Table salt contains iodine and anti-caking agents that can darken pickles and cause cloudiness and residue in your jars.
Use commercial vinegar with at least 5% acidity: Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples and adds some nice flavor. It will darken your pickles slightly, but the added flavor is worth it. White vinegar is clear vinegar made by distilling corn and rye. Choose an organic brand of white vinegar to avoid genetically modified corn.
Soak the zucchini slices in salted ice water: Soaking cucumbers in salted crushed ice or ice cubes and water for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours helps improve the texture, crispness, and flavor of your finished pickles. If soaking longer than 2 hours, place the bowl in the refrigerator and replenish the ice frequently as it melts.
Equipment for Canning Zucchini Pickles:
- Water bath canner with canning rack
- 6 pint sized canning jars
- Lids and bands
- Canning tools: lid lifter, jar lifter, canning ladle, funnel, and bubble popper
- Plus basic kitchen supplies such as a large sauce pot, large bowl, colander, small pot, kitchen towels, knife, and a cutting board.
Steps to Making Sweet and Sour Zucchini Pickles
Step 1: Prepare the zucchini and onions
Wash the zucchini well to remove any residue and soil. Trim and discard a 1/4-inch slice from both ends of the zucchini. The blossoms contain an enzyme that can cause soft pickles, so it is important to remove this.
Cut the zucchini into 1/4-inch slices and place in a large bowl. Peel and thinly slice onions and add them to the bowl.
Sprinkle salt over the zucchini and onions and toss to combine. Cover with crushed ice or ice cubes and water and let stand for 2 hours. Drain and rinse well with cold water to remove the extra salt.
Step 2: Prepare your canning equipment
Gather your canning equipment, wash, and boil your jars. Keep the jars and lids warm until you are ready to can.
Step 3: Make the pickle canning brine
Add the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, and peppercorns to a large pot. Bring the pot to a boil and then add the drained zucchini and onion mixture to the pot. Stir to combine, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Step 4: Can the zucchini sweet and sour pickles
Pack the pickles into hot jars, ladle hot pickle liquid, and add the lids.
Step 5: Place the filled jars into the canner
Place jars into the water bath canner. Adjust the water level so it is 2-inches over the tops of the jars. If adding water, use the hot water from your small pot.
Step 6: Process the jars
Bring the canner to a boil and process the pickles for 10 minutes. Let the canner cool, remove the jars, and let them cool completely. Date, label, and store in a cool location.
Preserve the zucchini harvest bounty with this sweet and sour zucchini pickles recipe.
Combine the sliced zucchini and onions a large bowl.
Sprinkle salt over the zucchini and onions and toss to combine. Cover with crushed ice or ice cubes and water and let stand for 2 hours.
Drain the zucchini and onions and rinse well to remove the extra salt.
In a large pot, combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, and peppercorns. Heat just to boiling.
Add drained zucchini and onion slices and return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Spread a kitchen towel on the counter. Use your jar lifter to remove the warm jars from canner. Drain and line up the jars on the towel.
Use the canning funnel and ladle to pack the zucchini and onions into the hot jars leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
Ladle the hot pickling liquid over the zucchini and onions maintaining 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles with the bubble popper and wipe the rims.
Use the magnetic lid lifter to lift lids out of the warm water, center lid on the jar, and screw on band until it is fingertip tight.
Using jar lifter, place jars carefully into water bath canner on the jar rack leaving space in between them. Once jars are all in canner, adjust the water level so it is 2-inches over the tops of the jars. If adding water, use the hot water from your small pot.
Cover the canning pot and bring the water to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Process pickles for 10 minutes. (Adjust for altitude if needed)
When processing time is complete, turn off heat and allow the canner to cool down for 5-minutes.
Spread a kitchen towel on the counter. Use a jar lifter to lift jars carefully from canner and place on the towel.
Allow the jars to cool for 12 to 24-hours. You should hear the satisfactory "ping" of the jar lids sealing.
After 12 to 24-hours, check to be sure jar lids have sealed by pushing on the center of the lid. The lid should not pop up. If the lid flexes up and down, it did not seal. Refrigerate jar and use up within a few days.
Remove the screw on bands and wash the jars. Label and date the jars. Store in a cool, dark location. Allow 4-5 weeks for the pickles to develop their flavor. Use within a year.
This recipe was originally published September 7, 2013. It has been updated with additional information.
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