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Welcome to WFAEats — a fun adventure where we explore all things tasty and interesting in the Charlotte food scene. We want to share stories, recipes and culinary escapades and hear about yours!

A Relish To Truly Relish

jars of zucchini relish
Tamra Wilson

Summer calls for potato salad, macaroni salad, tuna salad, egg salad, ham salad, chicken salad, deviled eggs. My magic ingredient for all of these is homemade zucchini relish. Forget the sugar-onion-vinegar combinations. This relish does the trick in one easy step.

With zucchini-drop season upon us, I must share this crucial recipe. You know what a zucchini drop is: those well-meant gifts of squash that arrive at your door from neighbors, friends, co-workers.

Zucchini relish and I became friends during my tenure at Central Telephone Company in the early ’80s. I was getting used to home canning and Pat, a co-worker, was happy to share instructions for making her fabulous sweet-and-tangy blend. That was 30 years ago, and I’ve been making the stuff ever since.

Bear in mind that this recipe calls for a full run (five to seven quarts, give or take) in a hot water-bath canner, but don’t let that scare you. The result is well worth the time and trouble it takes to pull out the soup pot, canner, and food processor and get down to business. The result will be enough relish to dress up a year’s worth of salads and sandwiches, plus a jar or two to give away. I’ve used pints of relish as hostess gifts for years, and several hostesses have begged for more.

If you’re not into canning, you could pare the recipe down for a jar or two to keep in your refrigerator for a week or two, but once it’s gone, you’ll be sorry. Trust me.

Zucchini Relish

12 cups finely chopped zucchini

4 cups chopped fresh onion

1 cup chopped bell pepper (red or green)

5 tablespoons canning salt (without iodine)

Combine the chopped vegetables in a large bowl with the salt. Cover with a towel and leave for at least 8 hours.

Drain thoroughly in a colander and set aside.

In large cooking pot, combine:

2-1/2 cups vinegar (I prefer cider vinegar)

6 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1-1/2 teaspoons celery seed

3/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Bring these ingredients to a boil, then add the chopped vegetables. Reduce to a simmer and stir often for 30 minutes. Place the mixture in jars and process in hot water bath according to your canner instructions.

Your kitchen will have that happy, sweet pickle smell. What bliss!