The Italian Pickle Press


The Italian Pickle Press   

 I’m going to take a small vacation from telling you about my take on Dutch culture to offer something a bit different.  The zucchini (courgette)  gods were very generous this year.  The 2 plants in my garden punnished me with 5-6 per week, sometimes as many as 5-6 a day.  For a while there,  I tried to hide zucchini in everything…chopped in chili, fried, soup, mock crab cakes, and in chocolate cake.  I even made an  ‘apple’ pie from a marrow ( a zucchini that grew so big that it formed a hard shell) .  I peeled and seeded a marrow and used it instead of apples in an apple pie recipe.  No one new the difference or at least didn’t admit they knew.  I sit now staring at  9 zucchinis in front of me.  Its October for goodness sake!  When is this punnishment going to end?!  I decide to make another batch of zucchini pickles.  My family loves zucchini pickes, the bread-and-butter kind. I love the way they squeak under my teeth when I bite them.  I google for another recipe.  The recipe for Zuni Café’s zucchini pickles springs up.  Hmm, it seems to have all the same ingredients.  But there is one fascinating difference.  These pickles are made in this thing called a Japanese Pickle Press.  Another, hmmm.  I don’t have one of those, I think to myself greedily.  Now folks,  I LOOOOOVE kitchen gadgets.  My house is busting with gadgets that I just had-to-have.  After the small fantasy of gloating to my friends that I ‘own’ an actual Japanese Pickle Press diminishes,  my curiousity as to what it is takes over.  The letters get carefully typed in the search engine.  Up comes images of my future acquisition.  I look over this contraption. To me, it looks like a small rectangular plastic, covered fishtank. Afixed inside is a spring-loaded plunger.  To keep the contents under the brine, I guessed.  Price 30 dollars.   $30 for a plastic fishtank with a plunger?  NO WAY!!!  My bubble burst.  When my grandmother was alive she made pickled eggplant. She had what I called, the Italian Pickle Press.  This contraption consisted of:  A stainless steel soup pan. A dinner plate big enough to fit inside the pan, and a 5 pound bag of sugar to weight it down with.  Cost: $1.29.  and you get to use the sugar.   I’ll be using this today, substituting a large jar of peanut butter because I ran out of sugar.    

The components

Assembled, it looks like this

   I slice:     

 5 thin zuchinis in circles about 1/8 to 1/4 inch think.   

 1 large onion quartered and thinly sliced    

That goes into said soup pan.  I add:     

 about 5 tablespoons of salt.    

   Mix well. Put the plate in the pan on top of the zucchini and the weight (sugar, jar etc…) on top of the plate.  Let this sit at room temp for about 1 hour.  That’s enough time for me to run to the store to buy sugar.   

   When I get home….I put in another sauce pan,   

   3 cups of distilled white or cider vinegar, (I use white because cider vinegar is really expensive here 

A Pack of Perfect Pickles

  1 ½ cups of sugar   

 1 teaspoon celery salt or celery seeds.   

  2 teaspoons ground tumeric   

 A few cloves (do not use powdered or you’ll get brown brine)   


 2 tablespoons of mustard seeds.   

 Bring to boil.      The salt will have caused water to be released from the zucchini.  Drain this off, and (optionally) lightly rinse.  Drain thougoughly.  Add the zucchini to the boiling liquid.  Bring to boil for 2 minutes.  Pour into extra clean jars or a large bowl with a lid.  Let cool and place in the refrigerator.  It will keep for about 3 months.  If you want to store them on the shelf, pour in sterilized jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  E-mail me if you want to learn more about canning.

One Response to “The Italian Pickle Press”

  1. Marie Says:

    Hi, Lisa, this is from NJ. Am enjpying your blog immensely. Had to comment on this edition, reminds me of the pickle process used by my Mom and Babi. Much the same except I remember (vaguely) a long used piece of thick wood held down with ? weight in a large ceramic or earthenware jug. They used cucumbers grown in our back yard in Chicago.