In the past, I have publicly expressed my dislike of bread and butter pickles. Honestly, I just don’t love sweet pickles. Usually. But maybe I think I don’t because so many are overly sweet and lacking in flavor. So, it was with a bit of trepidation that I tried this recipe for zucchini pickles from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook. My friend Sandra was the first to recommend the recipe, and she is a very trustworthy source . Judy Rodgers ain’t bad either.
My first impression was that these are seriously good looking pickles. The combination of mustard powder and turmeric gives them a beautiful chartreuse color. And believe it or not, I like the way they taste. This first round, I followed the recipe exactly. I remain tempted to reduce the sugar a little for my next try, but part of me thinks that the sugar is important and that I actually like the sweetness. These would be such an incredible side to serve with a grilled burger. I can’t think of anything better.
Bryan was super skeptical. First of all, he insists on calling these pickled zucchini. Pickles is an honorary title only awarded to cucumbers. But even he admitted these were good. The recipe says they’ll keep indefinitely in the fridge, which means you can still be eating your bumper crop of zucchini when there is snow on the ground.
Zucchini Pickles (from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook  by Judy Rodgers)
- 1 pound zucchini (medium-smallish)
- 1 small yellow onion
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup sugar (I would try 3/4 cup)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed yellow and/or brown mustard seeds
- scant 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Wash and trim the zucchini, then slice 1/16-inch think on a mandolin. Slice the onion thin as well. Place together in a large but shallow bowl, add the salt and toss to distribute. Add a few ice cubes and cold water to cover, then stir to dissolve the salt.
After about 1 hour, taste and feel a piece of zucchini- it should be faintly salty and softened. Drain, making sure to remove any reaming ice cubes. Dry very thoroughly between towels, or use a salad spinner. The zucchini needs to be very dry- otherwise it will not be crisp. Rinse and dry the bowl you were using.
Combine the vinegar, sugar, dry mustard, mustard seeds, and turmeric in a saucepan and simmer for 3 minutes. Set aside and cool until room temperature.
Put the zucchini back in the bowl and add the cooled brine. Stir to distribute the spices.
Transfer the pickles to jars. Cover and refrigerate for at least a day before serving to allow the flavors to mellow and permeate the zucchini. Rogers says these will keep indefinitely in the fridge.