Inspiring healthier eating one dish at a time

Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Relish

As a nutritionist, I certainly appreciate food for the good things (or not so good things) it does for our bodies. Health stuff aside though, I’ve always said one of the biggest reasons I love food is for the memories it makes for everyone. Food plays such an important role in shaping our lives and making us who we are. Every holiday, season, birth, death – people celebrate or mourn with food. I think it’s especially amazing how sometimes just a taste or smell or the act of making a certain food will remind you so much of someone you love, or miss.

This recipe I’m sharing today – Zucchini Relish, is from my friend Jill. She makes it in the summer, when there’s so much zucchini you don’t know what to do with it. It reminds me of visiting her Cape house in Orleans, and packing sandwiches at the kitchen counter to take to the beach. There’s always a big jar in her refrigerator to add to the sandwiches. She told me for the longest time she couldn’t bring herself to make it because it reminds her so much of her dad, who she lost unexpectedly and far too early. They always made it together in the summer, at their Cape house, probably to put on sandwiches to eat at the beach.


Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Relish|Craving Something Healthy


Use the small zucchini if you can find it – it has fewer seeds.  I like a red and a yellow pepper for the color, but feel free to use what you like.  Since this relish isn’t processed, it should be kept in the refrigerator, but it should keep for several weeks.  It also makes a lovely hostess gift, if you’re lucky enough to get an invite to someone’s beach house 🙂


Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Relish|Craving Something Healthy



Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Relish

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: about 4 pints

Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Relish


  • 2 1/2 pounds zucchini, ends trimmed and cut into slices (about 10 cups)
  • 3 large vidalia or other sweet onions, sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 1 red and 1 yellow pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 10 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch


Place zucchini in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade, and pulse until it's chopped into very small pieces. Place chopped zucchini into a large colander. Repeat with onions, and then peppers. Place all vegetables into the colander, and toss with kosher salt. Stir well to combine vegetables and salt, and let sit in the colander for an hour to release some of their liquid.

Meanwhile, mix together remaining ingredients in a large stockpot, and bring to a boil. Add vegetables and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove pot from heat, and let cool to room temperature.

When liquid is cool, ladle relish with some of the liquid into sterilized jars, and seal tightly.

Discard any extra liquid, or use for another pickling project.

Refrigerate relish for at least 24 hours, and for up to 4 weeks.


What’s your favorite food memory?

Eat well!









34 Responses to “Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Relish”

  1. chrisitna says:

    Hi! So I was wondering if you could can this to keep it longer?

    • Anne says:

      Hi Christina! I honestly can’t advise on the canning process since I’ve never tried it. Most canning recipes have specific requirements for the amount of salt/sugar/acid in the product in order for it to keep longer and be shelf stable, and this recipe wasn’t created with that in mind. I think if you’re going to refrigerate it, you could get a tighter seal and a bit of longer life, but I wouldn’t advise storing it without refrigeration. Hope that helps!

    • ellen cody says:

      Christina I was wondering the same thing. Cause I was going to can it. So did u can it. And if so. How did it turn out.

    • Lynyrd says:

      Christina I am making Zucchini relish by the case. I use a lot of it in my pasta salads and potato salad along with using on hotdogs. I can mine and have nothing be Splendid results. I live in New Mexico and I hot water bath for 23 minutes same as I do my Hot Salsa made with green chili and jalapenos. Look on the BALL CANNING WEBSITE and find your elevation and it will tell you how long to process.

      • Anne says:

        Thanks so much for sharing! I’ve posted your comment on the recipe for those who would like to try canning.

    • Kierstyn says:

      My grandmother makes a relish almost exactly like this and can it. It lasts forever but i cant remeber at the moment what the process is.

      • Anne says:

        Hi Kierstyn – I few people have chimed in with canning suggestions, and I’ve added their comments to the string. I wonder if you called your local extension school – they might be able to offer some suggestions. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Christina says:

    Thank you!

  3. Holly says:

    How about freezing it?
    Thanks 🙂

    • Anne says:

      Hmmm I never thought about freezing this Holly. I’m not sure how the vegetables would hold up and I think the relish might be end up mushy, but the flavor would still be there. Maybe make a small batch and try it and let me know! Wish I could be of more help :/

  4. Diane Fly says:


  5. Anita says:

    can you please share how you canned it Diane? Thanks.

  6. Ashley says:

    Please share how you canned it. I’ve been looking for recipes with all the zucchini in my garden that will last us through the fall.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Anne says:

      Hi Ashley and everyone else who is asking about canning. I wanted to share the link to the National Center for Home Food Preservation:
      They have helpful info on canning and preserving, and probably an 800 number for questions. I wish I could help, but I know that most canning recipes require a certain ratio of acid to salt to vinegar, and I don’t want to give anyone incorrect info. If anyone has success, please share!

    • Anne says:

      Hi Ashley and everyone else who is asking about canning. I wanted to share the link to the National Center for Home Preservation:
      They have helpful info on canning and preserving, and probably an 800 number for questions. I wish I could help, but I know that most canning recipes require a certain ratio of acid to salt to vinegar, and I don’t want to give anyone incorrect info. If anyone has success, please share!

  7. Nancy says:

    I have a variation of this recipe and use the hot water bath canning method with great success. After the 30 minutes of simmering, do not cool the recipe, rather ladle immediately into sterilized jars (hot pack method) and seal (lids/rings) using a water bath canner, processing for the time required (depending on recipe, I process my recipe for 10 minutes) with any additional adjustments according to your altitude. Hope this helps!

  8. Kristen says:

    i make a zucchini salsa and can that and keeps for a long time. Going to try this later today.

  9. Monica L says:

    how do you tie that knot? I love the look of it around the jar.

    • Anne says:

      Gosh Monica – I don’t even know – I just looped it and it worked! If you google decorative knots, you might find it. Thanks for visiting!

  10. Lori says:

    I was wondering, I saw a recipe very similar to yours here. But the only difference was it was 2 1/2 cups of vinegar, instead of the 12 you have listed here. That seems like an awful lot. Any chance it was a typo?

    • Anne says:

      Hi Lori! Thanks for your question. This recipe makes a large batch and calls for several pounds of veggies, so that’s why there’s so much pickling liquid. You can probably cut it back a bit – I usually have some leftover, but it should be 2 parts vinegar to 1 part sugar.

  11. Lisa ashby says:

    This does seem like alot of vinegar but im gonna try it right now.

    • Madeleine says:

      I thought so too, so I used half. Vinegar flavor was overpowering when it was done simmering, ended up adding an extra 2 zucchinis, still thought it was too much and strained some of the liquid out.
      Personally, I still think it’s too much vinegar.
      But thank you for the inspiration and all your other lovely recipes! 🙂

      • Anne says:

        Thanks so much for your comment Madeleine! I will make this recipe again in a few weeks and see if it needs a vinegar tweak.

  12. Sarah says:

    Thanks for this lovely recipe ! I made it and simmered it for longer – until a lot of the liquid had evaporated, which is what I always do with any of my chutneys. When it’s done, you draw a line with a spoon through it, and it should take a few seconds for the line to fill up – then you know it’s ready. I then sealed it when still hot in warm, sterilised jars, with cellophane covers and lids.

    • Anne says:

      Thanks for sharing the simmering tip Sarah! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe 🙂

      • Sarah says:

        Hi again Anne, It seems to have kept fine so far (13 days now) having warmed the sterilised jars and added the relish when hot and sealed straight away. It tastes absolutely delicious and I will be making a lot more of this with my courgette glut and will make enough to see us through till next year. I’m happy I reduced the mixture down and didn’t have to get rid of any liquid – more flavour that way too. It is fabulous in sandwiches (husband can’t get enough of it and eats it with everything!) , with bbq meats, with cheese….I also make the Hairy Bikers’ chicken tikka kebabs, and it is perfect with that. Thanks again for this recipe – it’s a real winner !

        • Anne says:

          Thanks so much for letting me/us know Sarah! I’m so glad you like it, and I so appreciate the tips about heating the jars and reducing the liquid. I love it on everything too. It’s been a popular recipe, so I know everyone appreciates the info 🙂

  13. Letha says:

    can it be made with much less sugar? I am diabetic and love my veggies but can’t have all that sugar!

    • Anne says:

      Hi Letha – I’ve never tried it without the sugar, but I think as long as you keep it refrigerated and use it quickly, you can try stevia or another type of sugar-free sweetener. I’ve seen sweet pickles made that way. Maybe try to halve the recipe the first time to see how it goes. Let me know how it works!

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