It’s that time of year for us… the summer squash is starting to produce. We usually get more squash than we need with just a handful of plants in our garden. In real good years we often find squash sitting by our back door when we come home, dropped off there by our friends and neighbors that end up with too much to handle from their gardens. I really hate to waste the food that we’ve been blessed with so preserving the excess has been an interest of ours since the first time we gardened.
Squash is a great candidate for dehydrating or freezing. I have heard that pressure-canning squash will provide poor quality and possibly unsafe results but I’ll have to leave that up you to verify since we do not hot can any of foods yet. Here’s a collection of preservation tips from our own experience and from around the web.
Blanching and Freezing Summer Squash
Wash and cut into french fry size pieces or 1/2″ slices. Place squash in boiling water and wait for the water to return to boil. Remove squash after 3 minutes of boiling, drain and place in ice water or under very cold running running water. Drain the cooled squash as thoroughly as possible and package in freezer bags or containers leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Seal, label, and freeze. We’ve saved squash for almost a year using this method. You can also blanch grated zucchini this same way, store and freeze in the proper quantities for your favorite zucchini bread recipes.
Simple enough. You can blanch your squash slices first if you want to but many folks don’t. I have seen some sites recommend that you dip the squash slices in citric acid to keep them from discoloring. For what it’s worth, we’ve done neither.
Vacuum packing both dehydrated and frozen squash will extend the storage life. Use a good quality bag and be sure to eliminate as much moisture as possible from your frozen squash.
Saving Squash and Zucchini Seeds
The seeds are easily harvested. Only take them from squash that is fully ripened. Pull the seed and surrounding material out of the sliced squash and place the seeds in a bowl of water. Work the seeds out of the pulp and place them on a dry towel. Spread as thinly as possible and let them air dry for several days, occasionally turning. Pack the seeds in sealed envelopes or a jar when the moisture is completely removed.
Our Favorite Way to Preserve Yellow Squash: ROASTED SQUASH and GREEN ONION Soup
Start with 9 squash and a handful of green onions. Cut the squash lengthwise in half and remove the larger seeds (don’t throw the seeds away, they taste great roasted and salted). Roast the squash halves at 375 degrees about 45 minutes or until they’re dry on top and the flesh separates easily from the skin.
While they’re roasting, get 3 cans of Cream of Chicken soup and prepare them, with the water, in a large pot but don’t heat it yet. If the squash are large, use 4 cans.
Dice the green onions using as much of the “green” as possible and add them to your pot of soup.
Add a 1/2 teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper. Add the pepper later if you’d rather season to taste.
When the squash are done, scoop out the flesh and puree in a blender or food processor. Measure how much squash you have and add it to the pot. Stir in the same amount of water to the pot (i.e. If you had 6 cups of squash, add 6 cups of water).
Simmer on low about 30 minutes, stir often. Add salt and cayenne pepper if needed. We like this soup to be pretty thick so if it seems to be too thin we’ll simmer it longer to evaporate the excess water.
This should give you 10-14 good sized portions. We seal the soup up in bags after it cools off somewhat and freeze it. Tastes great with a loaf of fresh home-made bread.
Here are some recipes we haven’t tried yet:
Summer Squash Bread
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 2 cups shredded summer squash
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the eggs until fluffy. Beat in the sugar, oil, and vanilla. Gradually mix in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Fold in the squash. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. SOURCE
Yellow Squash Casserole
- 4 cups sliced yellow squash
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 35 buttery round crackers, crushed
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Place squash and onion in a large skillet over medium heat. Pour in a small amount of water. Cover, and cook until squash is tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well, and place in a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, mix together cracker crumbs and cheese. Stir half of the cracker mixture into the cooked squash and onions. In a small bowl, mix together eggs and milk, then add to squash mixture. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter, and season with salt and pepper. Spread into a 9×13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cracker mixture, and dot with 2 tablespoons butter.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. SOURCE
Recommended book for the serious seed-saver: