Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Using Up Zucchini Overload!

I don't know what possessed me to plant FOUR zucchini plants to feed my household of one. (Probably because if I planted fewer, they'd die and I wouldn't have any?)

Dehydrated zucchini; the rest have been vacuum-sealed already

Anyway, excess zucchini is always a problem. This year I learned that if I sliced them about 5/8" thick, I could dehydrate them for winter soups and other dishes. None of the dried slices came out any thicker than 1/8 inch. In the past I have tried drying thinner slices, and just ended up with zucchini 'smears' I had to peel off the trays.

I dried mine in the electric dehydrator, but here's a method by Hank Shaw that uses sun power to dehydrate. On that same page is a delicious sounding recipe for Sicilian Sun Dried Zucchini sautéed in olive oil with mint and chiles. I also found in my recipes one for  marinated grilled zucchini with feta cheese, which may be grilled and some frozen for winter.

I've thought about making fried zucchini blossoms (Fiori di Zucca) after reading this recipe, but just haven't gotten around to it.

I don't make squash pickles because I prefer the more nutritious lacto-fermented pickles, and summer squash just turn to mush if you lacto-ferment them. Typical squash pickles have too much sugar, and taste pretty much like sugared vinegar to me. Of course, I've also grated and frozen a bunch of zukes in 2-cup batches for winter zucchini bread... and I've cooked them for supper every way I can think of (my fav is partially steamed then fried in coconut oil with some dried coconut)... but that still leaves an overload of zucchini.

Then I discovered a recipe for zucchini wine that winds up tasting like a dry white wine! The recipe is from Jack Keller's site, along with several other 'unusual' wine recipes. (For giggles, I may try more than just zucchini wine.) I figure all I have to lose is some sugar, a bit of fresh ginger, a can of frozen grape juice concentrate, and my time... so why not?

Zucchini Wine
 * 5-6 lbs fresh zucchini, chopped
* 2-1/2 lbs finely granulated sugar
* 1 11-oz can Welch's 100% White Grape Juice Frozen Concentrate
* 1-1/3 tsp acid blend
* 1/2 oz fresh ginger root thinly sliced
* 1 crushed Campden tablet
* 6-1/2 pts water
* 1 tsp yeast nutrient
* Hock, Sauternes or Champagne yeast

Bring 3 cups water to boil and dissolve sugar in it completely. Set aside.

Meanwhile, select, wash and chop the unpeeled zucchini cross-wise into 1/2-inch pieces. Thinly slice enough fresh ginger to make half an ounce. (That was about half of a knob the length of my thumb.)

Straining Bag filled with zucchini and ginger; additives ready to add to fermenter

Mix all ingredients except the yeast in primary, cover, and set aside for 10-12 hours. 

Add activated yeast and recover primary. Stir every 6-8 hours for 3 days, then strain off solids and transfer liquid into secondary. Press solids lightly and reserve the liquid from them, covered.

When vigorous fermentation subsides, add reserved liquid, top up if necessary, and attach airlock.

Rack after 4 weeks, top up and reattach airlock. Rack again after additional 4 weeks. If wine has not cleared, add amylase according to manufacturer's instructions and set aside additional month.

Fine with Bentonite if desired, rack 10 days later, stabilize and sweeten to taste.

Wait 3 weeks before bottling to be sure wine is indeed stable and not still producing fermentation bubbles. Wine should be aged 3 months after bottling. [Jack's own recipe]

Here's the brew after 3-4 days of fermenting with the zucchini and grape concentrate. I strained the pulp out this afternoon, transferred to a gallon jar and put on an airlock. The smaller jar is the squeezings from the pulp. There's a lot of sediment, but that will settle to the bottom with time.

(I won't post more photos of the process as it would take weeks and months. I will post results about whether it's really drinkable when it gets to that point!))

From Keller's comments section on this recipe:
Question: So tell me, what would you say it tastes like?

Answer: Even banana wine doesn't taste like bananas after the fermentation process. I would say it would end up being a dry table white wine.


  1. Good post. I was just thinking I wanted to try drying some zuchs really dry - like chips, salted & maybe garlic. But...I have no experience doing it. Have you tried them that way? Maybe it wouldn't work to make "chips"? If they work, there are several different flavor combos I'd like to experiment with.

    Sue - aka "Leah's Mom"

  2. No, I haven't tried zucchini "chips" because the thin slices dry into a hollow ring.

    However, I AM planning some flavored / dehydrated chips from Swiss Chard and Yellow Cabbage Collards in the next few days.

  3. I was going to try to lacto-ferment some zuch pickles so I'm also glad to see your comment on that.
    What about zuch "pickle relish"? I also like to lacto-ferment and haven't canned pickles for quite some time so I don't like the idea of heat canning anything. I have thought about trying some "not-so-sweet" relish with the zuchs and maybe freezing - or even trying to ferment. Going to look for a recipe - any leads?

    Oh...and let us know how those Swiss Chard & Yellow Cabbage Collard chips turn out. Have you tried them before?

    s aka lm

  4. Sue, every soft vegetable I have fermented has turned to mush. However, I'm thinking a recipe like fermented catsup might work with a little zucchini mixed into it... Haven't tried, but WILL make fermented catsup when my tomatoes ripen this year.

    No, I've not made chips before... I did make a pan of baked kale chips but they burned in a nanosecond when the phone rang.


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