Pickled zucchini

A great way to utilize an abundant vegetable this time of year.

Zucchini is an abundant vegetable in many Michigan gardens this time of year. Photo credit: ANR Communications | MSU Extension
Zucchini is an abundant vegetable in many Michigan gardens this time of year. Photo credit: ANR Communications | MSU Extension

Garrison Keillor says that July is the only time of year when country people lock their cars in the church parking lot, so people won't put zucchini squash on the front seat. For many of us, right now is that time to “lock our doors.”

Late August in Michigan is a bounty of fresh garden vegetables. It is also a time when everyone is busy getting ready to go back to school, finishing second cuttings of hay, and small grains are being harvested; in other words, there’s not a lot of spare time to think about what to do with all the vegetables coming in. After all, you can only eat stir-fried or stuffed zucchini so many times before you’re ready to not see one for another year.

One great solution to this problem is zucchini bread-and-butter pickles! My mother actually discovered this recipe a couple years ago and it has been a staple in our home, as well as in my food preservation classes ever since. It’s also a great way to use up the zucchini that has gotten a little “over-sized” and tough to eat on its own. The recipe is from the “So Easy to Preserve” book published at the University of Georgia, or can be found online at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Pickled Bread-and-Butter Zucchini

  • 16 cups fresh zucchini, sliced
  • 4 cups onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup canning or pickling salt
  • 4 cups white vinegar (5 percent)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 2 tablespoons celery seed
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric

Yield: About 8 to 9 pints

Please read Using boiling water canners before beginning. If this is your first time canning, it is recommended that you read Principles of home canning.

Procedure: Cover zucchini and onion slices with one inch of water and salt. Let stand for two hours and drain thoroughly. Combine vinegar, sugar and spices. Bring to a boil and add zucchini and onions. Simmer five minutes and fill jars with mixture and pickling solution, leaving ½ to one inch headspace. Adjust lids and process according to the recommendations in Table One or use low-temperature pasteurization treatment.

Table 1. Recommended process time for Pickled Bread-and-Butter Zucchini in a boiling-water canner.


Process time at altitudes of

Style of Pack

Jar Size

0 - 1,000 feet

1,001 - 6,000 feet

Above 6,000 feet


Pints or quarts

10 minutes

15 minutes

20 minutes

Michigan State University Extension encourages you to remember that canning is a science and you should always follow a science-based recipe like the one above. Always follow the recipe and process properly in a hot water bath canner for the proper amount of time for your elevation. Canned vegetables can be stored safely in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

Enjoy these pickles that taste and look just like cucumber pickles. They’re a great memory of summer in the middle of January.

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