This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Jimtown Store Cookbook. Unlike most cookbooks, it doesn’t have pictures to entice the reader. It’s the names of the recipes that draw you in, surrounded by a simple layout with easy to follow instructions. It also helps that everything I’ve made from the book has worked perfectly and become an instant family favorite. It was because of the book we made a pilgrimage to the store. Nestled in the beautiful Alexander Valley wine country, it’s a great place to have lunch, grab picnic supplies, and shop for interesting knickknacks. And if you do stop in for one of their delightful sandwiches you’ll always find a scattering of these pickles at its side.Because our part of the world is starting to turn inward, I’m trying to get myself in the right mindset for late fall, early winter. I’m saying a tearful farewell to the gorgeous sun-kissed tomatoes by making one last enormous pot of sauce, eating as many plums as I can, and turning my back ever so slightly on the “everything has to be fresh or I’ll die” attitude that is one of San Francisco’s many mantras. In short, I’ve used dried herbs instead of the fresh called for in the book. I’ve also added a couple of other spices to give the pickles a little kick. I have also reduced the recipe to one quart jar of pickles which is enough for us and our limited refrigerator space.
Zucchini pickles aren’t as crunchy as the typical cucumber pickles, but it’s their flavor–a bit meatier maybe–that gives the pickles a little something special. Their color isn’t half bad either.
Sweet Hot Zucchini Pickles (makes 1 quart or 1 lliter)
16 oz. (450g) or a little less, medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 oz. (60g) yellow, white or purple onion, sliced, about 1/2 a small onion
4 cloves garlic or more if you like
1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) whole yellow mustard ceeds
1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) celery seed
1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) whole black peppercorns
3/4 cup (180ml) sugar
3/4 cup (180ml) white wine vinegar (if you don’t have white wine you can use apple cider or plain white, I wouldn’t use red wine or balsamic)
1 Tbsp. (15ml) dried dill
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon (5ml) salt
In a large saute pan or saucepan, toast the mustard, celery, and fennel seeds and red pepper flakes for a few minutes over medium heat until fragrant.
Add the zucchini slices, onions and garlic to the pan and cover. Let sit until cooled. At first it might not look like enough brine to cover the pickles, but as the brine cools the zucchini slices will shrink and it will all even out.