Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Preserved Zucchini (Zucchini Sott'Olio)

Or how to squeeze five pounds of zucchini into two 1-pint jars. This technique for preserving zucchini has proved to be invaluable when the mid summer glut of zucchini arrives.

First, start with 5 pounds of zucchini, the big ones are best.

Trim the stems and the flower scars off the zucchini and cut each zucchini into 2 to 3-inch lengths. Cut each length in half vertically and scoop out the guts. I find that a melon baller works great. We've lost about 1.25 pounds already! (The chickens loved the zucchini guts, what you do with them is your business).

Slice the zucchini into strips about 1/4-inch thick. My trusty mandoline made short work of this step.

Put the zucchini strips into a large bowl and sprinkle with 1/4-cup of kosher salt. Toss to coat the zucchini with the salt. Let sit for 2 hours, then drain. Rinse and drain to remove the salt. Rinse and drain again if the strips are still salty.

Put the drained zucchini in a large pot and add 3 cups of wine vinegar and a cup of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes. The zucchini should be cooked but not falling apart.

Drain the strips in a large colander. Discard the cooking liquid.

Next you need to put a heavy weight on top of the zucchini that is just a bit smaller than the diameter of the contents of the colandar, a large pot full of water works well. Let the weighted zucchini sit for at least 15 minutes to squeeze out the excess liquid.

Spread the strips out on a kitchen towel (I put the towel on top of a couple of baking sheets) and leave the zucchini to dry for 24 hours.

The strips after 24 hours. We're down to 1.5 pounds of zucchini now.

Put the zucchini strips into a bowl and toss with a few thinly sliced cloves of garlic (I forgot the garlic in ths batch!), sliced fresh hot peppers or dried chile flakes to taste, 1/4-cup of chopped mint, and about 1/4-cup of extra virgin olive oil. Divide the zucchini evenly between two 1-pint canning jars or the equivalent. Press the zucchini into the jars and add olive oil to come to the top of the zucchini. Slide a long thin knife blade down inside of the jars between the glass and the contents and press down on the zucchini to release air from the contents. Add more olive oil as needed to come to the top of the contents. At this point I cover the jars and refrigerate them a few days to harden the olive oil, then I add more olive oil to make sure no zucchini is exposed.

The preserved zucchini must be kept in the refrigerator where it will keep for a long time. Serve it on crackers or crostini.

Preserving five pounds of zucchini hardly made a dent in the glut that I had on hand that day so I also whipped up a double batch of Zuni Cafe's Refrigerator Zucchini Pickles (the recipe is in their cook book). That used up another two pounds... Here's a big jar for me and two smaller ones for gifts.

What are you doing with your glut of zucchini?


  1. Sadly I have no zucchini glut. I should be having one, but I'm not. I like to grate the zucchini and freeze it in premeasured bags for zucchini bread and soups in the winter. If I had a ton, I would pickle it.

  2. Mine go to the chickens and the camel...although the big guy if a little more fussy about them, he prefers the little ones!

    I love your photo series about preserving them, I will have to try it, thanks, Kim

  3. Daphne, I had the same problem last year, it was really strange to have 4 plants and not much to harvest. I took your advice and now have enough frozen grated zucchini for 4 batches of bread. I'm sure I'll be adding to that stash. Wish I could send you some.

    Kim, who would have thought that camels could be epicures? Hope you like the recipe.

  4. Michelle, just discovered your blog via Randy and Meg's site. Thank you for the idea on what to do with some of the zucchini. Will visit again.

  5. Hmmmm. Nice looking preserves, but I'm all about seasonal when it comes to zucchini. Really. That way I might begin to miss them by next summer.

  6. Stefani, yeah I'm usually all about seasonal also, but this is a great way to deal with excess and it's so nice to have on hand for a quick and easy appetizer. But, really, it's mostly about having 15 lb or so of zucchini on hand...

  7. To answer your question, if you're my mother, you try to pawn it off on me! She hasn't wised up to the fact that if she makes her gift of tomatoes conditional on accepting an equal amount of zucchini, she'd have more success.

  8. I swear, I wish I lived next door to you. I'd eat a lot better...

  9. still looking at them on the kitchen table because it's this beast is too big for the fridge or the oven. chopping it up seems somewhat undignified but it's that or destination compost heap


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