Sweet Zucchini-Pepper Relish

A couple of years ago, while having a girlfriends night, my friend Erin showed up with this Sweet Zucchini-Pepper Relish. She served it on slices of baguette with cream cheese or goat cheese, and a dollop of the relish on top. It was a big hit. That stuff was goood. This is also tasty in less-fancy applications: dressing up hamburgers and hot dogs, for example.

On top of a baugette slice with chevre.

I love this time of the year: the abundance of fresh, in-season produce makes me very happy. I want to take advantage of it. The other day, Michael and I drove out to Richmond Country Farms. I love this place: in October, we go there to get our Hallowe’en pumpkins, but this time of year, the place is overflowing with fresh produce that they grow right there on the farm: notably corn, but there is tons of other great stuff, as well. Like zucchini. Cheap and plentiful, there is so much you can do with this lowly vegetable. One of my fave recipes is a chocolate zucchini bread, but that’s a future blog post.

Today’s is a sweet relish that I then canned, and, if it makes it to Christmas, will no doubt end up as gifts. The ingredients for this cost me less than $10, and it made 7-250 ml jars.

This recipe is a bit loose. Take the basic part of it, and then add seasonings to your taste.


  • 8 small-medium zucchini (I used four green and four yellow)
  • 3 regular onions
  • 2 sweet red bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt (I just used coarse salt, which I have around anyway)
  • 2 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of vinegar (I just used plain white vinegar, but I’ve seen some recipes call for apple cider vinegar, and I think that could make for an interesting extra layer of flavor)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tsps of cornstarch


1. Wash everything, top and tail the zucchini, and slice them in half length-wise, peel the onions and quarter them, and clean the seeds out of the peppers and cut them in quarters.

2. Chop, chop, chop: Some recipes call for shredding the vegetables, or putting them through the food processor, but I like a chunkier relish, so I put mine through the food processor using the thin slicing attachment. You could also use a mandolin for this, I was just too lazy to do it by hand.

3. Throw all the vegetables into a large bowl and toss to mix. Sprinkle them with the salt, and toss them again. Let them sit for an hour. This helps to drain all the excess water out of the vegetables.

4. After the hour, put all of the vegetables in a colander and rinse them under running water, and then press out the excess liquid.

5. In a very large pot, add the sugar and vinegar. This is also the time to add anything you want to flavor your relish: some ideas include:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • Hot pepper flakes to taste
  • a scoop or two of plum jam
  • Bay leaves (remove after cooking and before canning)
6. The mustard and turmeric will make the relish quite yellow, similar to the hot dog relish you can buy in the store. Add if if that kind of thing turns you on. Heat the vinegar, sugar and spices together until the sugar dissolves entirely.
7. Now add the vegetables, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. You want the vegetables to be soft, but not mush.
8. Mix the cornstarch and water together until they are smooth, and add to the pickles to thicken the broth. Taste and adjust seasonings.
9. You could store your relish in plastic containers and use them up fairly quickly, or you can preserve them by canning them. Click here to learn the canning process.
What next??? I’m thinking tomatoes…

1 thought on “Sweet Zucchini-Pepper Relish”

  • My aunt makes a zucchini relish that looks quite similar to this. I have no idea what her recipe is though. I just know it’s awesome on any burger you can think of. Now I want to try it with some goat cheese 🙂

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