I know, I know. This isn’t the season for pickling or canning anything. It’s the middle of winter, the time when I’m supposed to be popping open mason jars of vegetables that I dutifully stored away during the summer. But we all know I don’t plan that far ahead. Also, I’ve also never canned anything, so that whole idea is really out the window. But that doesn’t change the fact that I am trying to get my fill of vegetables even during these winter months. I have also been trying to cut back on store-bought or processed snacks, and this is a much cheaper (and healthier) alternative to potato chips.
If you’ve never had pickled zucchini, it is definitely worth a try. It’s much milder than cucumber pickles, and I like the firmer texture that zucchini lends. For this recipe, the “zickles” are jarred with sliced Hungarian wax peppers. The whole process is pretty simple, and the brine recipe is basic enough that with a few additions or subtractions you could completely change the flavor. Maybe thin-sliced zucchini with onions for a sandwich topping? Or leave out the peppers and add some dill. Ginger and garlic could be packed in the jars with some zucchini for a more Asian-inspired batch. I’ve made two batches, one mild (without pepper membrane or seeds), and one spicy. They are both great, and after a week or so in the pickling brine even the spicy batch has calmed down so that there’s just a bit of heat, but nothing overwhelming. Since they are refrigerator pickles, they must be stored in, well, the refrigerator. The brine will keep nearly indefinitely, though, so once you’ve eaten all the good stuff, just toss some more veggies into the jar and let the vinegar do its thing.
Pickled Zucchini and Peppers – Fills 2 quart-sized jars
- 2 zucchini, sliced into ~1/8 thin discs
- 5 or 6 Hungarian wax peppers, sliced in rings (de-seed if you want a milder batch)
- 3 cups vinegar (I’ve been using 2-1/2 cups cider vinegar and 1/2 cup rice vinegar)
- 1 cup water
- 1-1/2 cup sugar
- 1 T. kosher salt
- 1 t. mustard seed or dry mustard
- 1 t. turmeric
Combine all brine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool. Meanwhile, slice the vegetables and pack into jars. When the brine is cool (you don’t want to do this too soon or the zucchini will begin to cook and turn mushy), pour into the jars so that the zucchini and peppers are covered. You may want to do this over a sink or on a protected surface, so the splashes won’t stain your counters turmeric-yellow. Seal the jars and refrigerate at least 4 days. You will want to shake them up daily, and even flip the jars upside down for a day or two, to make sure that everything inside is being pickled evenly.