Preserving Zucchini in Oil is an excellent way to avoid wasting the abundant fruit production that zucchini plants can yield. Preserving garden produce not only prevents us from wasting the excess of our harvest but also ensures that we can enjoy summer vegetables even in the winter months. And that’s why August is the prime month for preserving. Organic gardens, during this month, are in the midst of their production. Unfortunately, not everything they provide can be consumed fresh. Therefore, it becomes essential to know various techniques and recipes for preserving these products.
Making preserved zucchini in oil is an ancient farming tradition. In this article, we present a simple recipe that’s accessible to everyone.
How to Make Preserved Zucchini in Oil
Growing zucchini, when done well, yields abundant fruit. However, especially during the heavy production of August, these fruits are not always consumed. This happens for various reasons, particularly the rapid growth of the fruit. Often, zucchinis are left on the plant for a few days, causing them to grow quite large. This makes the fruit less suitable for traditional consumption but perfect for this recipe. It’s the outer part, indeed, that is used for preserved zucchini in oil. The inner, spongy part with the seeds cannot be preserved. So take advantage of this and harvest your extra-large zucchinis.
The different steps for making preserved zucchini in oil are:
- Cutting, where the zucchini is cut into slices;
- Salting, necessary to remove the water from the fruit;
- Boiling in vinegar, necessary for long-term preservation;
- Pressing, to remove the water and vinegar from boiling;
- Sterilizing the jars;
- Seasoning the zucchini slices;
Cutting the Zucchini
The preliminary phase of the preserved zucchini in oil recipe, of course, is cutting and cleaning the fruit. Using a knife, first, cut them in half. Then, remove the white inner part, leaving the skin and about 0.5 cm/1 cm of internal thickness. As we’ve seen in a previous article, the scraps from the inner cleaning can be used in composting. If you have a chicken coop instead of a compost bin, know that hens love the soft inner part of zucchinis. They’ll happily consume it. At this point, you need to proceed with slicing the zucchinis. It’s in this form that the preserved zucchinis in oil will be stored. Notice the right thickness of the zucchini slices. An important recommendation during this slicing phase: when the outer part of the zucchini is cut, and in this case, we’re talking about repeated cuts, it releases a film that dries on hands. Using latex gloves is advised to avoid this inconvenience.
At this stage, proceed with salting the zucchinis, using fine salt and a large container. The salt should be plentiful; the quantity depends on the volume of zucchinis to be salted. Once they’re sprinkled with salt on the surface, mix and repeat the salting. This ensures even salting. The next step after salting is to place a weight on the zucchinis and let them rest for a few hours. The right time for our preserved zucchinis in oil is 6-8 hours. This salting and weighting operation has a dual purpose. Firstly, it removes the water content from the zucchinis, and at the same time, it leaves the zucchinis a nice light color. As we can see in the photo below, after the resting period under the weight, the zucchinis have released a lot of water. It’s necessary to squeeze them vigorously by hand and let them drain, ready for the next phase.
Boiling in Water and White Vinegar
The recipe for preserved zucchinis in oil that we present involves boiling the zucchini slices in water and vinegar after salting. The quantity, proportional to the amount of zucchinis to be boiled, is: one liter of water per one liter of white vinegar. This operation is essential for the preservation of zucchinis in oil. After boiling, the zucchinis are perfectly preserved for a long time. However, be cautious; the boiling should not be excessive. Just a few minutes in the water and vinegar that have previously been brought to a boil are sufficient. Don’t overdo it; excessive cooking would make them too soft. After this brief boiling, drain the zucchinis using a slotted spoon.
For preserved zucchinis in oil, after blanching and before putting them in oil, they need to be pressed. This is done to remove the water and vinegar from the boiling.
There are various types of presses for this type of operation. But in general, a press is an indispensable tool for preparing certain types of preserves correctly. This is because it quickly removes excess water, which could compromise the preservation of vegetables.
Here you can purchase a good press, with a good quality-price ratio, which will become essential for many of your preserves.
At this point, our zucchinis are ready to become preserved in oil and be placed in jars. But before proceeding, let’s not forget to sterilize the jars.
Let’s see how.
Sterilizing the Jars
For proper preservation of zucchinis in oil, it’s crucial to sterilize the jars in which they will be stored. Even if our jars have just been bought, it’s still a good practice to sterilize them before placing the zucchinis. The operation is not complex. Simply put the empty, open jars in a large pot filled with water. Bring it to a boil. Let it boil for 20 minutes. To prevent the jars from breaking, use cloths inside the pot. After that, carefully dry the jar. Then, turn it upside down on a cloth to prevent any water residue. This is necessary because water is highly dangerous for preserves.
Seasoning the Zucchinis in Oil and Jarring
Once pressed and the water and vinegar removed, our zucchinis need to be seasoned and then placed in oil. Using a large container or pot, season the zucchinis with extra-virgin olive oil, mint, garlic, and chili peppers. Seasoning before jarring ensures that the zucchinis absorb the oil evenly. The final step is jarring the zucchinis before turning them into preserved zucchinis in oil. Fill the jars carefully, and in this phase, you can add additional seasonings, such as a whole chili pepper. Once this is done, fill the jars carefully with extra-virgin olive oil, up to the rim.
At this point, the last task is to place a small plastic press on the rim of the jar. This will keep the zucchinis well pressed below the oil level. This prevents mold formation on the surface between the jar lid and the zucchinis.
Sealing the Jars and Storage
At this point, the recipe for preserved zucchinis in oil requires only one final step: tightly sealing the jar. Now, your preserved zucchinis in oil are ready. Store the jars in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. This way, you can preserve them for up to 6 months. You can consume the product as it is or use it for other preparations. Always keep in mind, though, that once opened, the jar should be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.
So, enjoy your meal!