In a new post today Rob Allen shows a method you can drop into your Zend Framework application to allow Zend_Config_Ini to take in a string instead of being restricted to loading a file.
With PHP 5.3 however there is is a new function called parse_ini_string() which will allow us to load arbitrary ini string into Zend_Config objects. This can't go into Zend Framework 1 though due to our PHP 5.2.4 minimum version requirement. As I needed this for a project, I extended Zend_Config_Ini to support this feature, which means simply overloading a single method.
He includes the code for the method - the App_Config_Ini class that includes a _parseIniFile method that checks to see if the last four characters of the input value are ".ini". If so, it loads like normal. If not, it assumes it's a configuration string and parses it with the new parse_ini_string method.