With the advent of urban homesteading, it has become a natural progression for more and more people to cultivate their own green thumb oases — be it on a wee plot of soil, balcony ledge or rolling Radio Flyer — and experiment with myriad recipes in their modest kitchens. While you’re not going to get picture perfect results like some, with a little patience and adherence to key ingredients, the success rate of eking out an exceptional dish is higher than one might suppose.

Take one pickled zucchini concoction making the rounds online with our friends. We first saw this on a post by Bekah who suggested that it was “a good use of those 4 zucchinis from Trader Joe’s i can never quite finish.” Not too long after, Wendy uploaded a photo of her finished product made from veggies grown with her own two hands (and maybe with the aid of her husband Jeff’s two hands). It looked so enticing and easy that many people we knew were soon pledging their allegiance to making this mason jar wonder.

A couple of nights later at Mulberry Street, our favorite bartender Kevin was coincidentally also singing the praises of this marinated squash variety. His own garden is still in its nascent stages, so his produce came from our weekly Farmers Market. He promised that if we returned the next evening, he would gift us with a jar to sample. Return we did and and home we went (after celebrating the triumph of the Recall Election) with a fine specimen of preserved brininess.

Upon cracking the seal, we were worried that we’d grimace and pucker from the first bite. Not so as the blend is sublime in its piquancy, with mild heat from the chile pepper and a hint of sweetness from the cane sugar. Using the pickled zucchini as a condiment, it was a perfect counterbalance to the fatty acids of the seared skirt steak we prepared for lunch today. The light, crisp crunch provided a nice texture contrast to the fluffiness of the minted couscous.

Easy Pickled Zucchini 

(from 101cookbooks.com)

  • 3 medium zucchini (1 pound / 16 oz / 450 g), thinly sliced
  • 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fine grain sea salt
  • 1/4 cup (small handful) fresh dill sprigs
  • 1 small fresh red chile pepper, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 3/4 cup / 180 ml cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup / 180 ml white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup / 1.75 oz / 50g natural cane sugar

Toss the zucchini, onion, shallots, and salt together in a colander and place over a bowl to catch the liquids. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least a couple hours. Toss once or twice along the way. You’re aiming to get as much liquid out of the zucchini as possible. When you’re finished draining the zucchini, shake off any water. At this point you want the zucchini as dry as possible. Place in a 1 liter / 1 quart jar along with the dill, chile pepper, and mustard seeds. Alternately, you can cram them into a 3/4 liter Weck jar like I do, but it’s always a bit snug in the jar.

Combine the ciders and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves, and continue to boil for a few minutes. Pour the liquid over the zucchini and seal the jar. Let cool, then refrigerate. The pickles are good for a week or so.

Makes one large jar.

Corky Nepomuceno

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