Summer squash can be used to make a tangy-sweet golden relish. Credit: Sandy Oliver / BDN

Not just zucchini seemingly doubles its size overnight. One day, one has a demure little yellow summer squash, the next, a behemoth. At that grand dimension, all summer squash exceeds its saute usefulness. Even grilling slabs or stuffing and roasting won’t employ it well. I could heave it over the fence and let the deer feast on it.

Even though cucumber is our most common version of relish — with zucchini a close second — I decided this year to give an overgrown yellow summer squash, a variety called Zephyr, a whirl as relish. It turned out gorgeous, tangy-sweet and the best sort of delicious surprise as far as flavor is concerned. Definitely worth repeating.

I only grow four types of squash plants, including two kinds of zucchini: one all dark green called Raven and a lighter green striped one named Cocozelle. Then there’s a disk-like, almost flying saucer-shaped patty pan yellow squash called Y-Star, which if picked when young is adorable on a plate, and Zephyr, which is longer and has a light green end, as if it has been dipped in a green stain.

You can use Zephyr the same way you use other yellow squashes, straight or crookneck. Old timers complained that these summer squashes were just “all water,” not worth bothering with. But I like having them to use variably.

I’ve grilled them, shredded them and frozen them to add to winter dishes such as chili where they serve as a vegetable that absorbs flavor. They make a terrific summer time room-temperature soup. I can roast them. So versatile. And now, they prove useful as relish.

I took a good zucchini relish recipe I had and adapted it to make this golden relish. Do not be too surprised if you find some variability in yield depending on how dense your squash is. This year, I’ve noticed, because of the drought conditions, my squash and cucumbers have less moisture. As a result I’ve had a slightly better yield than other years.

I used an old fashioned hand grinder, probably the one that belonged to my grandmother, with the coarsest blade. A food processor will make the mixture too fine unless you are very skilled at pulsing. Some mixers have grinding capacity. Otherwise, chop the vegetable ingredients finely in a wooden bowl or on a board with a knife.

This recipe suggests you grind up the ingredients and let them stand with salt on them for three hours. You can also let them stand overnight. No rush on these in case you can’t finish the relish in four or five hours.

Plus it is pretty.

This golden relish recipe is a great way to use overgrown summer squash. (Sandy Oliver | BDN)

Tangy Golden Relish

Makes 6 to 7 pints

12 cups ground yellow squash, which is about 5 to 6 pounds of squash

4 cups ground onions

1 red pepper, ground

1 yellow pepper, ground

½ cup pickling salt

2 ½ cups cider vinegar

4 ½ cups sugar

1 tablespoon mustard seed

2 teaspoons celery seed

¾ teaspoon cornstarch

½ teaspoon pepper

1. Put ground squash, onions and peppers in a large bowl. Sprinkle in the salt and toss to spread the salt. Let stand at least three hours to overnight.

2. Rinse well in cold water and drain.

3. Combine vinegar, sugar, spices and cornstarch in a large pan, and mix in the ground vegetables. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for an hour, stirring often enough to prevent sticking.

4. Spoon the relish into sterilized jars, put on the lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10


Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...