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Processing summer and winter squash


Blanched Summer Squash, Photo by Margaret M Hoff

As winter squash fills up the stands at our local farmer’s markets, it is easy to buy a few extra to save for the upcoming winter months. In fact, in East Tennessee we are lucky enough to still find summer squash locally. There are two simple ways to process squash – freezing and canning.

To freeze summer squash, peel and seed the squash and then cut up into sizes useful for future recipes. Then simply blanch the squash for about 3 minutes in boiling water. Blanching the squash keeps the flavor, color and texture better in the freezer than simply freezing without blanching first. Remove from water, drain, and put into freezer bags for future use.

To freeze winter squash requires a bit more work but is well worth it. Here is a great recipe from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving:

Select fully-mature squash with a hard rind. Wash; cut into halves; scoop out seeds and membrane. Place squash cut side down in a shallow baking dish; add ¼ - inch water and bake at 375 until tender. Scoop out pulp. Puree in a food processor or food mill. Cool. Pack puree into can-or-freeze boxes (or bags). Seal, label and freeze.

To can summer squash without a pressure cooker (in a normal water bath), you must pickle them. Here is a great recipe that is not your typical pickle -- it is a great addition to any any pasta dish. This recipe is from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving:

Summer Squash Pickles
4 c summer squash or zucchini, peeled, seeded & cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium onion, sliced (I used a sweet onion)
2 c water
1 1/4 c sugar
1 c white vinegar
1 t pickling salt
1 t dry mustard
1/2 t ground turmeric
1/2 t ground ginger

Prepare the jars & lids for canning. Jars should be boiled in water for 20 minutes & lids for 5 minutes.

In a large enamel or stainless steel saucepan combine the water, sugar, vinegar, salt, mustard, turmeric and ginger. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to melt the sugar. Add the zucchini & onions. Bring back to a boil & boil for 10 minutes.

Pack into five hot sterilized half-pint jars leaving about 1/2-inch headroom. Clean off the tops of the jars & cover with a lid. Close with a neckband & finger-tighten. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Turn off heat & let sit for 5 minutes. Remove jars from the water to a heat-proof surface & let cool for 12 - 24 hours (do not dry jars). Check to make sure the top of the jar has been drawn downwards, creating a seal.

To can winter squash, you will need a pressure cooker. Here is a great recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving:

Preparation: wash the pumpkin or winter squash, cut in half and remove seeds. Remove the peel or rind and cut flesh into 1-inch cubes. Do not mash or puree.

Hot-pack: In a stainless steel saucepan, combine pumpkin or squash with boiling water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 2 minutes, until heated through but not soft. Drain, discarding cooking liquid. Pack hot pumpkin or squash into hot jars to within a generous 1-inch of top of jar. Add salt, if using, as ½ tsp per pint and 1 tsp per quart. Ladle boiling water or cooking liquid into jar to cover squash, leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding more hot liquid. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight. Follow your pressure cooker directions to begin the processing – 55 minutes for pint jars and 90 minutes for quart jars.


  • Dena/Nashville Gardening/Tri-Cities Small Business 5 years ago

    I just love squash. Have already frozen quite a bit.