Zuni Cafe Pickles

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Zuni Cafe Pickles

I have an endearing habit of labeling things. (Or at least, I think it’s endearing, you may find it annoying, in which case, I would label you no-fun-at-all). One of the things I like to label is seasons. It was the spring of my…., it was the summer of my…. It works well, except for that disastrous, “the summer of cleaning out my garage”, which did not (and probably, will not) come to pass.

This summer must be labeled, “the summer of pickles”. I have completely rediscovered and fallen in love with pickling things. It’s the perfect antidote to the bags of summer produce picked up from my CSA. Slice the veggies, make a pickling solution, put both in a jar, and it keeps for months in your fridge. Perfect. And did you know, that you can reuse pickling solution? I reused a jar about 4 times, until the cucumber slices stopped tasting pickle-y and started just tasting like cucumbers.


My latest discovery is the Zuni Cafe Pickles, which I found online here. I didn’t have any zucchini, so I substituted yellow squash. These were wonderful. They are bright, sunny yellow, with a flavor reminiscent of sweet gherkins. Sweet gherkins, only better, minus that weird chemical flavor that store bought gherkins can sometimes have. There are 2 jars sitting in my fridge, and I plan on always having a jar of these in my fridge!

Zuni Cafe Pickles
Adapted from
The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco’s Beloved Restaurant

1 pound zucchini (I used yellow squash)
1 small yellow onion (I omitted)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed yellow and/or brown mustard seeds
Scant 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Wash and trim the zucchini, then slice them one-sixteenth-inch thick; a mandoline works best. Slice the onion very thin as well. Combine the zucchini and onions in a large but shallow nonreactive bowl, add the salt and toss to distribute. Add a few ice cubes and cold water to cover, then stir to dissolve the salt. Alternatively, transfer the salted zucchini and onion slices to a Japanese pickle maker and screw down the top; do not add any water or ice cubes.

After about 1 hour, taste and feel a piece of zucchini — it should be slightly softened. Drain and pat dry.

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.)

Return the zucchini to a dry bowl and pour over the cooled brine. Stir to distribute the spices. Transfer the pickle to jars, preferably ones that have “shoulders” to hold the zucchini and onions beneath the surface of the brine. Seal tightly and refrigerate for at least a day before serving to allow the flavors to mellow and permeate the zucchini, turning them a brilliant chartreuse color.

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  1. says

    I like labeling things also. I am kind of an organization freak though so if I say to myself it is the summer of… then at least I know I have an objective and some direction. I really like that these pickles are made with summer squash and not cucumbers (I am not really a cucumber fan). They look really good.

  2. says

    I have not done any pickling this yr!

    I love turmeric and mustard seeds and the look of home preserved things on my counter.
    It just feels like June Cleaver in a good way:)

    I had clean up plans too..Fall is right around the corner..it can wait:)
    Your Zunis looks so good.

  3. says

    Yes, you have been pickling a lot. I remember the “before” picture of your garage in the summer of the garage. I presume it still contains light fixtures and not automobiles.

  4. says

    my pickled-food-consumption for this summer is more than for my entire previous 25 years combined, so i’m picking up what you’re putting down. picked squash i’ve yet to try, but i shall! hooray for the summer of the pickle!

  5. Pam says

    Joanne – if you’re not a cucumber fan, then you really should try these!

    Pearl – thank you.

    Maybelle – I would gladly take some…how weird is that..I’m low on zucchini!

    Cristi – I have no idea.

    La table – I know, I absolutely love how things look in a jar!

    Pam – I could too!

    Kat – so I’m a year behind you!

    Marjie – yep, 8 chandeliers!

    Grace – I think it’s the perfect summer for excessive pickle consumption.

  6. says

    I’m really into labeling too! In fact, I do it so much that my friends make fun of me: ) If I didn’t label,I would probably forget things!! I love that you used the yellow squash in this recipe. So much more original than the green zucchini and also much brighter and sunnier. Bet they are very tasty.

  7. says

    I love to label things also.. I figured it was a Virgo trait.
    My daughter desperately wants one of the labelling guns.
    Great pickles, I had no idea you could re-use the solution – you are a font of pickling information!

  8. says

    They look yummy!! My Grandmother used to can around 40 quarts of pickles every summer for us. I might can around 6-12 quarts a year, but no more. I don’t know how she did it!! But I was always so glad she did. I think I might try the squash/zucchini!!

  9. says

    My kid and I love all kinds of pickles! I’ve never had pickled zucchini or squash. Will have to try as we’ve got them coming out the wahzoo!


  1. […] time readers, may know of my inclination  declare things. There was my Summer of Pickles and the Summer of My Herbs and there was even The Spring of My Side Dishes. Well, it’s that time […]

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