Preserving the harvest: making and canning mock “apple” pie filling using your overgrown zucchini.

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Psst…hey you, you wanna buy a zucchini?  I can get you a great deal on half a ton! 😉

My zucchini vines overfloweth…image

Now I like zucchini and will happily eat it sauteed with garlic, onions, and tomatoes every night.  Unfortunately, no one else in this house cares for zucchini…or at least they think they don’t care for it.  What the younger people here do not know, and what the older ones only learned after admitting they liked what they were eating, is that they actually love zucchini desserts.  A devious mama who wants her little ones to eat zucchini simply makes mock apple pie, mock apple crumble, mock apple strudel, or zucchini chocolate cake and stays mum about the switcheroo.

I found a recipe for canned zucchini pie filling and decided it was perfect for dealing with a half dozen monster-sized overgrown zucchini.  Example:
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I made some minor adjustments to the recipe, most importantly by increasing the processing time and pressure.  Here is what I did…

Ingredients

24 c of peeled, seeded, and sliced zucchini
2 c lemon juice
3 c white sugar
1 1/2 c brown sugar, firmly packed
4 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp caradom
3/4 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp ginger
1 Tbsp vanilla

Directions

  • Wash and peel zucchini. Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds, and then cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick; try to make them look like apple slices.

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Here is a tip my mother taught me for when you are measuring many cups of something into a pot or bowl.  Start by making a little dish of “markers”; I put 24 slices of zucchini into this dish and then each time I dumped a cup into the stock pot, I added one “marker” slice.  That way when I ran out of slices, I knew I had put in the right number of cups.  This is helpful if you are constantly being interrupted by children wanting lunch, puppies needing to go outside, or teenagers asking if you will drive them out to Clear Lake, and you lose mental count of how many cups you’ve added.

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  • Place zucchini into a stock pot, add the lemon juice and bring to a boil, then simmer 15 – 20 minutes until a greenish color but not quite transparent.
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  • Mix together remaining dry ingredients in a bowl while the zucchini is cooking:
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  • Add dry ingredients and vanilla to cooked zucchini; cook for about 5-7 minutes until it thickens somewhat.
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  • Ladle into hot quart-size canning jars and then wipe off jars and rims.  Put on lids and rings.
  • Process in a pressure canner at 6 pounds of pressure for 10 minutes.

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  • Use as you would homemade apple pie filling.
The woman who originally posted the recipe didn’t mention how much it would yield, but I got 5 quarts out of it.  A quart contains four cups, which is enough filling to make a 9-inch pie, so this will make five pies for us next winter.
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This is the first time I’ve made this particular recipe, so I tasted some of the filling before I canned it, and I’m telling you, it tastes almost exactly like apples.  Don’t tell anyone it’s zucchini and they’ll never know!  It’s less goopy than store-bought filling, so I might thicken it with a tablespoon of flour sprinkled over it when I dump it into the pie crust.
Check out the Self-Reliance Blog for more recipes making mock fruit fillings from zucchini:
I think I’m going to try her mock lemon pie filling next, after I have my eldest daughter make a chocolate zucchini cake to bring out to the lake with her friends tomorrow.  Naturally I will tell her to refer to it simply as a chocolate cake…
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12 thoughts on “Preserving the harvest: making and canning mock “apple” pie filling using your overgrown zucchini.

    • Ha, I wish I could take personal credit for the idea of using zucchini in place of apples, but it’s not a new idea. 🙂 My mother used to make zucchini lemon bars that virtually everyone assumed were apple bars; my eldest daughter has a funny story about finding out what was really in them. I’ll share the recipe for those bars later, since I’m making a batch of them later today to freeze.

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  1. I’ll have to try making a zucchini pie once ours are ripe. Everything here is a bit behind because of our cold, rainy spring.

    We have a funny zucchini tradition in our area. Most people have gardens and after harvesting and freezing as much zucchini as they feel they need, they’ll start giving it away.

    Once no one will take it anymore, some creative types will look for an unlocked car (hardly anyone locks there cars) and stick a zucchini or two on the passenger seat. I’ve seen people do this with zucchinis bigger than baseball bats and imagine it makes for a good laugh for the person who is gifted with it.

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  2. There’s a bit of an old tradition here in Australia of using Chokos (Chayote?) similarly as a apple or pear substitute, since they take on the taste of whatever they are stewed with, and they’re ridiculously easy to grow in most parts of Australia (you throw an old choko into the bush, and soon you’ll have a vine growing). They aren’t anywhere near as popular now, but they where apparently big during the depression.

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  3. Pingback: Using and preserving the harvest: frozen lemon zucchini bars. | The Sunshine Thiry Blog

    • You know, you probably could because of all the lemon juice and sugar in this, but if you do, I would use an abundance of caution and NOT use it for anything that you don’t plan to bake. After it’s been baked in the pie shell, any botulism toxin would be destroyed.

      I canned the “lemon” pie filling I made in a water bath canner, but that had way more lemon juice in it than the “apple” filling, so I feel pretty certain that recipe is acidic enough to be safe. I canned this one in a pressure canner because it has somewhat less acidity.

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