Zucchini in Italian Sauce
Zucchini in Italian Sauce

Zucchini in Italian Sauce

Zucchini is about to come into season, along with tomatoes, for those who live in areas with a longer growing season. This is my favorite recipe using those two vegetables, though it will be another month or two before I will be harvesting those two vegetables.

Back in the day, when canned food used to be made from real food (non-gmo) without tons of poison I cannot pronounce nor would even feed to someone I detested, I loved the canned zucchini in Italian sauce. My Mom swears my great-grandma used to make this, I do not remember her making this dish, I only remember her wonderful berry cobblers. (drool…)

Today, the now-crap-in-a-can, (and a tiny half-can at that!), runs about $6 for a taste of… ugh! (scrapping tongue…) There is nothing worse than finding out a favorite food has been turned into an imitation of food.

I searched the web for a recipe, after noting the ingredients of this vegetable blend. One site had something close. I made a small batch. It was not quite right, but it gave me a start. The recipe below is my version. We think it is pretty good. We warm and put it on pasta, rice, or use as a side dish. I sometimes cook up some lean ground beef and add it for a variation. This recipe makes quite a bit, on purpose. I pressure-can this to have on hand when the mood strikes. This recipe can be cut in half if you wish. I am posting the recipe as a pressure canning recipe. When made to use immediately, I add a little salt, and everyone salts to taste when dining. I am not a salt nazi, but I do not over-salt, either. I DO get only organic, and if in season, locally-grown ingredients like my own if on hand, even the canned puree I use.

The batch below can make about 9 quarts, give or take. I do not know if it freezes well. This is one way to can zucchini without it coming out “slimy”. It may be because it is in a tomato base?

Zucchini in Italian Sauce
Zucchini in Italian Sauce

Italian-Style Zucchini

5 lbs. zucchini
2 (28 oz each) cans tomato puree
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped fine
5 lbs. tomatoes, chopped fine-ish
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp Italian seasoning blend
1 tsp thyme (optional)
pink Himalayan mineral salt (for jarring)
1 small bunch celery, chopped small (optional)
or powdered celery to taste
black pepper to taste

If canning, get all your gear ready to go, remembering to follow your pressure canner’s instructions.

Wash and trim ends of the zucchini. Do not peel! Cut into 1/2″ or so chunks. Weigh and set aside. Do the same for the tomatoes.

Combine the puree, onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, garlic, celery (if using), and all seasoning except the salt. Bring to a boil and add zucchini. Bring the ingredients back to a boil.

* If not canning, add about 2 tsp of salt, turn down the heat and gently simmer until zucchini is just-tender.*

Put 1/2 tsp salt per quart jar, or 1/4 tsp salt per pint jar. I use only 1/4 tsp in the 1-1/2 pint jars.

With a slotted spoon, pack jars 1/2 full. With a ladle, top off the jar with the sauce trying to get as little vegetable as possible, leaving 1/2″ head-space. Wipe rims, and put on lids and rings. I live at about the 2200′ elevation. I pressure-can at 15 lbs. pressure. Adjust to your elevation, per instructions from your pressure canner’s manufacturer.

Processing: Pint jars – 25 minutes. 1-1/2 Pint jars and Quart jars – 40 minutes.

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