Get ready for a delicious easy sweet Summer Squash or Zucchini Relish recipe. Canning, refrigerator or Freezer ready. Sweet relish is a great way to use up all that excess zucchini coming out of your garden.
Making zucchini relish recipe: Chop up your squash or zucchini and a bit of onion. Combine with vinegar and some spices. Freeze or Process in a water bath canner. An easy-to-make condiment. This is a sweet recipe but I’ve included options to make it dill or even spicy!
Makes about 5 pint jars or 10 half-pints of zucchini relish. Both size jars are processed for the same amount of time. A simple relish recipe with zucchini, onions, vinegar, sugar and spices. No peppers in this recipe.
Personally I make this in half pints. We are just 2 of us in the house now and pints don’t get used up quickly enough. Both size jars are processed for the same amount of time so you can actually do some in half pints, and some in pints. Quart jars are not recommended.
Know your Canner
If you are not familiar with how to use a water bath canner you should check this page first. It will tell you how to have everything ready and warmed up appropriately for the canning step. And includes a printable list to keep you on track as you work.
Alternatively, you might want to look at steam canning. Honestly, this is my preferred method these days. It is a great substitute for the water bath and takes a lot less water. Not everyone has a steam canner though so a water bath works perfectly too.
Making Zucchini Relish; Expanded Instruction & Expert Tips
This section includes expanded instruction for each step of the recipe. I’ve also got a brief printable recipe format below.
Your first step is to get your canning supplies ready and gather all your ingredients.
- 4 pounds fresh zucchini (or summer squash)
- ½ cup diced sweet onion, white or red is fine
- 2 cups vinegar 5%. I use apple cider vinegar. White vinegar is fine too.
- 2¼ cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons celery seed
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 4 teaspoons mustard seed
How to Prepare the Zucchini
Wash and cut the ends off of your zucchini. Usually when I’m making relish, I’ve got overgrown zucchini that I want to use up. I like to cut these large fruits in half length ways and scoop out the seeds. It is not appealing to have all that large seed in your relish. (The chickens get the seeds.)
I also peeled mine. Peeling is optional. If you have normal size zucchini just wash and slice the ends off. A small amount of seed that might be present is fine. No peeling, or seed scooping needed for normal non-ginormous zucchini.
You can peel your onions at the same time so all is ready to chop.
Then weigh your zucchini. A single batch is 4 pounds. You can halve this recipe or double it according to your needs. Just be sure you half or double all ingredients. Do NOT half or double the processing time.
Next chop or shred the zucchini. You can use a food processor, but be cautious if you plan on shredding the zucchini. This relish will cook. If you’ve shredded the zucchini too small, the texture of your relish will show it. I used a large shred disc on my food processor and got the size pieces you see in the pictures. A chunky shred. Just chop or shred appropriately. You know…. relish size.
Chop your onions. I pulse mine in a food processor but once again be easy. Don’t liquify the onions. You can cut by hand if tears in your eyes doesn’t bother you. I used a red onion for just a hint of color. But most of the color faded so it wasn’t as pretty as I thought it would be. Any onion works.
Measure your onion, vinegar, sugar and spices. Add these to the zucchini and mix in a large stockpot. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir often. This makes sure your zucchini mixture is hot throughout and ready to go in the jars.
A note about vinegar. I used apple cider vinegar in mine. You can easily substitute white vinegar. The flavor will vary slightly. The vinegar must be a 5% acidity. This is pretty standard vinegar that you buy at the grocery store. Check the bottle for the acidity level. Don’t substitute homemade or flavored vinegars. Standard white or apple cider vinegar is what you need.
Packing the Jars
You should have hot jars and lids ready and the canner warming up.
Ladle the relish into canning jars and leave a 1/2 inch headspace. This is the space between the food and the lid of the jar. This is important. You want the correct space to allow for expansion while processing.
Use a bubble tool or a plastic utensil (an orange peeler works if your bubble tool is lost in your kitchen somewhere!) Just run it down into your relish along the sides of the jar. This releases any trapped air.
Check your headspace again and add liquid if needed to be sure your food is covered with liquid and has the correct headspace.
Wipe rims of your jars clean. I’ll use a damp paper towel. The brine in this is sticky. You don’t want this on the rim as it might interfere with the sealing process.
Put on your canning lids and screw bands. Tighten just finger tight. No need to tighten down super hard. If you are wondering what does finger tight mean? Check this page for video demonstration.
Canning Zucchini Relish
Put the jars of relish in the canner rack as you fill them. When all your jars are filled, process the batch in a water bath canner. Follow the times indicated in the printable recipe below.
Adjust for your altitude.
This is important as well! (So many details!) If you wonder why… check this page. Altitude Adjustments. Why does it matter?
Pints and half pints are processed for the same amount of time. Altitude adjustments are in cluded in the chart below. You’ll add time to your processing the higher in altitude you are.
There are no directions for relish canned in quarts. That would be a LOT of relish. But even if you think you want quarts, there are no tested recommendations for processing. Check for the printable recipe below for processing details for your specific situation.
You can add new spices to the mix if you have specific flavors you are looking for. You need to stick to dried spices for canning safety. It is ok to add a clove of garlic… and garlic makes everything better!
If you plan on putting this in the fridge you can add fresh herbs or even some finely chopped peppers. But for canning and storage on the shelf stick with dried.
For instance add some red pepper flakes or a small dried red pepper for a spicy relish. Or lower the sugar and add a head of dill for a dill relish.
You can use either white or apple cider vinegar. It must be a commercial product with 5% acidity. Check the label to be sure of your acidity. Do not use specialized or homemade vinegars.
Peppers and Onions
Many people like peppers and onions in relish. However, changing up the vegetables in this recipe would not be a good thing. This is the general rule, if you’ve got tested recipes with peppers, you can change the type of pepper, but not the quantity. This recipe doesn’t have peppers to start with, so it’s not ok to add. And you would not want to add more onions either. That changes the acidity levels and makes safety an unknown. Keep to the same ratio of vegetables in this relish recipe.
Can this be made low sugar? I’ll be verifying this but… for now, please don’t lower the sugar content in this recipe.
Refrigerator Zucchini Relish
For the most part, I know most reading this want to can it to store on the shelf. However, maybe you only have a small amount of zucchini (is there such a thing?). Halving the recipe is easy. Just cut all ingredients in half.
Yes you can make this relish and put it in the refrigerator. The nice thing is, since you are not preserving it for storage on the shelf, you can change up the vegetables and combinations as you like.
Simply make the recipe, fill your jars, let them cool for a bit. And put them in the fridge. Be aware of how much you make and be sure you’ll use it up in a reasonable amount of time. The relish will last a couple weeks in the refrigerator. Remember it is not preserved.
Important – The jars might seal just from the temperature change, but that does not mean they are safe for the pantry. If you do not process it in a canner, it is not shelf stable even if it seals.
For freezer relish just make the recipe as indicated but instead of putting the finished relish in jars, put it in freezer containers. You can use freezer bags or other plastic container.
You can use jars… but I don’t care for jars in the freezer. Other containers stack well and are less likely to break. If you use jars be sure and leave a bigger headspace that indicated so you have enough room for expansion. I’d say 2 inches at least.
A Few Other Relish Recipes
Sweet Corn Relish – Get ready to make the tastiest sweet corn relish ever with this easy and delicious recipe! No pressure canner needed even though it’s corn.
Pickle Relish – This easy-to-make sweet pickle relish recipe is sure to be a hit with all your family and friends.
Other Ways to Preserve Zucchini
Freezing Zucchini – Freezing zucchini, whether it is chopped, shredded, or cubed, is a fantastic way to preserve all the extra.
Dehydrating Zucchini Chips – How to dry zucchini, both chips and diced.
Canning Squash – How to can both summer and winter squash. From zucchini to pumpkins, learn safe canning methods and which types of squash are best suited for it .
Zucchini in Tomato Sauce – A great Basic for your pantry. This tomato based sauce can be used in many meals. Options for both zucchini and Okra as well.
Zucchini Pineapple – Learn how to can Zucchini Pineapple. Canning Zucchini in Pineapple juice results in a surprisingly pine-apply (just made that word up) faux pineapple.
Frequently Asked Questions.
That is not really a good idea. The freezing process breaks down your zucchini. When you thaw it out it will end up very soft and loosing a lot of water. Your relish will be very poor quality.
Frozen Zucchini can be used in many other ways though. Check this page for more on how I freeze and use frozen zucchini.
Yes! Since both size jars are processed for the same amount of time you can do a combination of sizes. You can see in my images above that I have both pint and half pint jars being processed at the same time. Remember, no quarts.
The seasonings are for flavor so yes. You can adjust the seasonings to your taste as well. Just stick with dried seasonings for canning safety.
It can be used just like any pickle relish. Add to sandwiches, hot dogs, or hamburgers. I like to put it in my potato salad for a bit of ‘pickly’ flavor.