Pickle & Preserve

Zuni Cafe Zucchini Pickles

June  3, 2015
3 Ratings
  • Makes 2 to 3 pints
Author Notes

This recipe comes from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook and is yet another solution to the question: What to do with all of those zucchini? A cold brine prior to pickling gives these zucchini pickles a saturated flavor and crisp texture.

These pickles are on the sweet side, but I suggest making them once as-is before tailoring to your liking on subsequent batches. Moreover, they do not taste too sweet when layered atop a burger. —Alexandra Stafford

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound zucchini
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons salt, a little more if using kosher
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed yellow and/or brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  1. Wash and trim the zucchini, then slice them lengthwise into 1/16-inch-thick slices on a mandoline. (You could slice them crosswise, too, but Zuni's are lengthwise.) Slice the onion very thinly as well. Combine the zucchini and onions in a large but shallow non-reactive bowl or casserole dish, add the salt, and toss to distribute. Add a few ice cubes and cold water to cover, then stir to dissolve the salt.
  2. After about 1 hour, taste and feel a piece of zucchini—it should be slightly softened. Drain and pat dry.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, sugar, dry mustard, mustard seeds, and turmeric in a small saucepan and simmer for 3 minutes. Set aside until just warm to the touch. If the brine is too hot, it will cook the vegetables and make the pickles soft instead of crisp.
  4. Transfer the zucchini and onion pieces to three two-cup canning vessels (or the equivalent) and pour over the cooled brine. Seal tightly and refrigerate for at least a day before serving to allow the flavors to mellow and permeate the zucchini. They'll last for a week in the fridge.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jenny Russell
    Jenny Russell
  • ChefJune
  • kumalavula
  • BocaCindi
  • Shoba F Dsouza
    Shoba F Dsouza
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

40 Reviews

Sue B. May 31, 2018
I just made a batch for a hamburger party for my boss. I've been making these for a few years & people always love them. They're so tasty & such a nice surprise...a zucchini pickle☺ I put them next to the salmon on the charcuterie board, such a hit! Thank you
Jenny R. September 16, 2017
These are some of the very best pickles I have ever made. I'm addicted. Thank you!
ChefJune August 31, 2016
Ooh,, yumy! My bread and butter (cucumber) pickle recipe is strangely similar to this. I'll have to try it with zucchini.
Alexandra S. August 31, 2016
Is your bread and butter pickle recipe up on Food52? I'd love to try it!
Arin S. August 26, 2016
I made these as is and found them to be perfectly sweet with a lovely floral undertone. VERY pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed these pickles! I am already making my second and third batches to share with friends =)
Alexandra S. August 31, 2016
So great to hear this, Arin!
kumalavula August 23, 2016
i made these and processed in a water bath probably a month ago. i was so curious that i opened a jar two weeks ago and have been scheming with ingredients when i go shopping just so i have sandwich fixings! these are SO good! and even after two weeks of being open, they are still crunchy and fine (that may be due to the tumeric, which was used in india to preserve food that wasn't refrigerated, so yay!)
i have one jar unopened but before the zucchini disappear from the farmers markets in the heaps they've been in, i am making more of these!
Alexandra S. August 23, 2016
So awesome to hear all of this!! And so interesting re turmeric! I need to make a batch ASAP, too. Thanks for writing in!
Ben H. December 18, 2018
Did you still put them in the cold salt bath or not bother as you pasteurized them in the heat bath
Alexandra S. December 18, 2018
I do put them in the cold salt bath.
Elizabeth August 14, 2016
Hi ! I just made this recipe today, and I processed in a water bath for 15 min, should I wait a couple of days to try it? In any case I'll let you know ow it turned out.
Alexandra S. August 14, 2016
I think waiting a day (or 24 hrs from when you processed it) is plenty of time! Exciting!
BocaCindi August 8, 2016
Simple and delicious recipe. Brining is essential for crispness and concentration of flavor. How do I know that? Tried to skip that step when I made them one time. 😉
Alexandra S. August 8, 2016
Haha, I love it, well, now we know! Thanks for writing in :)
Shoba F. September 1, 2015
I am from India ... How can I get the stuff delivered to me ....
Eleana July 21, 2015
I look forward to trying this on the fresh zucchini from my garden.
Marisa C. July 17, 2015
HiI I made this yesterday -- it's still flavor-absorbing so so will update when I've tasted. But, comment on the yield. My batch filled TWO 2-cup (pint) wide-mouth jars to the brim, with a little extra brine. The yield given at the top of the recipe says 1.5 to 2 pints, which matches what I made; but the instructions in step 4 say THREE 2-cup vessels, which is twice as many jars. Please fix, thanks!
Alexandra S. July 18, 2015
All fixed — I adjusted the yield to say 2 to 3 pints. I did use about a pound of zucchini, and I was able to fill three 2-cup jars, but there's a chance I may have used more zucchini, which is why I was able to fill three pint jars vs. two. Does that make sense? Hope they turned out well!
Marisa C. July 22, 2015
These are yummy! Next time maybe a little less sugar. I was astounded at how crisp the zucchini stayed! It made two (2) one-pint (2-cup) jars, with only a tiny bit of pickling liquid left over. Definitely a keeper! =)
Alexandra S. July 22, 2015
Fantastic! I know, the texture is nice, right? And they stay crisp for awhile. I am definitely going to try less sugar next time, too — they're not cloying, and I haven't had anything but rave reviews, but somehow all of that sugar doesn't seem necessary. We shall see. Thanks for reporting back!
Leah S. July 16, 2015
So I can use this same recipe and just process in a water bath for 15 min to can these?
Alexandra S. July 16, 2015
I would think so. I've never done this, but I don't see why it wouldn't work.
Leah S. July 17, 2015
Victoria Y. July 15, 2015
im not so fond of sugar - is the sugar used only for sweetness or does it have other qualitys necessarry for the pickling process
Alexandra S. July 16, 2015
I think it's primarily for sweetness. Of all the pickles I've made, this one has the most sugar proportionally. All the others just have no more than a few tablespoons. But, I can't say for sure how cutting the sugar in this recipe will affect the overall flavor — will report back if I give it a go.
inbe July 11, 2015
1 cup of sugar? is that correct? thanks
Alexandra S. July 11, 2015
Yes, that is correct. I suspect the sugar can be cut, but I haven't tried because they've been so well received as it. Let me know if you make any changes. I'm curious about the sugar.
Patti F. July 16, 2015
It all depends on the type of pickle you are going for. This is similar to a zucchini bread & butter pickle recipe I use. Not as sweet as a sweet pickle but far from a regular dill. In fact bread & butter pickles are my favorite and I have not had much luck making a good dill pickle. However, my recipe has always been a hit with whomever I give them as a gift! :)
Alexandra S. July 16, 2015
Thanks for this, Patti! I haven't attempted dill pickles yet, but I am loving this bread-and-butter style pickle. I think a little sugar is necessary in this sort of preparation.
Charyl M. July 11, 2015
the reciepe I use is a little different I canned mine as I will do about 8 to 16 pints.. but i love Z pickles as I call them. all you need is a bath canner. process time is 15 minutes. there is more prep time than process time.
Alexandra S. July 11, 2015
Nice, good to know. Thanks!
Tucker &. July 5, 2015
Can the jars be processed for longer storage?
Alexandra S. July 5, 2015
I don't see why not. I have to admit, I have only been pickling regularly for about a year, and I've kept it pretty simple — radishes, kohlrabi, carrots, daikon — and I have yet to put anything up for the long term. Are you a pickler? Is there any reason why some vegetables cannot be pickled for longer storage?
Tucker &. July 5, 2015
I really can't see why not. I've made bread and butter pickles using a different and more complicated recipe, and I've processed them in a hot water bath for longer storage with no prob. Tomatoes seem to be a bit trickier, I think, in terms of acidity levels so I often roast and freeze them, or even freeze them whole.
Alexandra S. July 5, 2015
Nice, good to know — I think these will store well. I have yet to try pickling tomatoes...if my garden produces this summer, I will try, but I like your idea of roasting and freezing — seems more versatile.
Tucker &. July 5, 2015
There is a wonderful recipe for pickled cherry tomatoes and basil that I did years ago. Very delish. But in general, roasting is much more versatile. You're not simply limited to "sauce." Oh, the delights of the summer bounty!!
Alexandra S. July 5, 2015
Oooh — fun! That sounds so good. Would love to try that. And yes to summer bounty! Our tomato plants are looking promising but I don't want to get my hopes up :)
Patti F. July 5, 2015
You mentioned you could also use green patty pan squash. I expect to have an abundance this year.
Would you recommend slicing on the side or from the top down? Thanks
Alexandra S. July 5, 2015
I would slice from the side so that you get more of a circular shape — they won't be the same size of course but they will be so pretty! So fun that you will have an abundance.
Patti F. July 5, 2015