We’ve preserved zucchini by drying it (sun drying and in the dehydrator), ready for use in winter stews, and by this wonderful pickling method I found on an Italian vegan website: zucchini, salt, vinegar and oil. The Italian author says this dish will make the winter ‘lick his moustache’: what an excellent way to describe the effects of a dish like this. The method is simple: salting overnight, blanching in a 50 per cent vinegar solution, then bottling with olive oil. Left to mature for, oh, a couple of years, they are delicious as a side dish or an appetiser. My favourite way is to serve them with bread as part of an extended Saturday brunch. It’s one way we have of dealing with the overwhelming abundance of zucchini from our garden. It’s just something we seem to be able to grow. Even those big (huge) zucchinis are sweet and tender here, and that’s after a hot, dry summer.
How to preserve zucchini
- a large zucchini
- salt (non-iodised)
- ordinary white vinegar (nothing fancy or expensive)
- olive oil
- basil or oregano stalks
- optional: herbs, chilli and spices
- Peel the zucchini and remove the seeds. Slice thinly and layer with salt in a large bowl. Press down for 24 hours.
- Drain off the liquid, then blanch in a 50:50 mix of boiling water:vinegar.
- Allow to dry, then pack into jars. Cover with the vinegar–water mix. Put basil stems across the top (to keep the slices submerged) and top up with olive oil. Seal and store for at least 6 months.
- Peel the zucchini, and remove all the seeds and the spongy surrounds holding the seeds in. Then slice it thinly, into 3-5 mm thick slices (the exact width doesn’t matter too much, just try to get them fairly even).
- Get a large bowl and put a layer of zucchini slices on the bottom. Sprinkle salt over the layer of zucchini. Put another layer of zucchini slices over that, then sprinkle salt across the top of that layer. Keep going—zucchini slices and salt, zucchini slices and salt, and so on—finishing with salt over the last (top) layer of zucchini.
- Now you want to press the zucchini and salt. I do this by putting a plate on the top, then balancing a bowl of water on top of that. The water gives the weight, the plate distributes it across your salt-layered zucchini.
- Leave this for 24 hours. Check every now and again and pour off the water if, for some reason, your zucchini slices have released so much water they’re starting to swim.
- When you come back (at least 24 hours later), you’ll find a lot of water has come out of the zucchini and filled up your bowl. That’s exactly what you want.
- Tip the bowl into a colander to drain off all that liquid. You can leave it to drain for a while if you want, but it isn’t really necessary. You can give it a quick rinse if you want to make the end result a bit less salty: we only do that for zucchinis that were a bit dry to start with (and so didn’t release much water).
- In a large pot, boil a solution of 50:50 water:vinegar. For 2 kilograms of zucchini, we seem to need about 2 litres of solution (so 1 litre of water and 1 litre of vinegar). Again, it doesn’t have to be exact. The important thing is to make sure you have enough of this to cover the zucchini (and for it to keep boiling) when you do the next step.
- Tip the drained zucchini slices into the boiling water:vinegar mix and boil them for about 2 minutes at the most. This is the one step that is critical. If you boil the slices for too long, you can end up with soggy zucchini, which you definitely don’t want. I often do this in batches to make it easier.
- Remove the zucchinis with a slotted spoon, let them drain, pack them into sterilised jars, and cover them with the water–vinegar solution.
- Cram in some herb stems (we like to use basil) over the top.
- Fill the jars up with olive oil, seal them and put in the cupboard for at least 6 months to mature. We’ve gone two years and they’e still amazing!
Jars: We use old jars (washed and sterilised). You can use large jars with plastic lids for this. We’d run out for this batch, so it’s metal lids with a layer of something protective (greaseproof paper or that preserving cellophane plastic stuff) because that’s what I always do with metal lids.
The original used olive oil to fill the jars up (rather than the vinegar-water mix first with a cm or so of olive oil just to seal the top), but it came out too oily for our tastes.
Source: This web page at veganblog.it: Zucchine sott’olio di nonna Nina. Hooray for google translate.