Preserving Summer Squash

Pam H. Schmutz
Home & Garden Information Center

Are you looking for ways to preserve the yellow or zucchini squash that grows so abundantly in summer gardens in South Carolina? The best options are to either freeze or pickle summer squash. Due to the lack of tested recipes, the canning of summer squash without the addition of vinegar (for pickling) is no longer recommended. When summer squash is cooked it gets soft and packs tightly into jars, affecting the heating pattern needed to destroy the bacteria that cause botulism. Documentation is not available to give the processing times for this low-acid vegetable, which is why canning summer squash is no longer recommended. However, freezing is a good, simple option. It is important to blanch squash before putting it in the freezer in order to stop the deterioration in color, flavor and nutrients that occurs because of the natural enzyme activity.

Follow these simple instructions adapted from the National Center for Home Food Preservation http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/freeze/squash_summer.html.

Choose young squash with tender skin. Wash and cut in ½-inch slices. Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes; cool in ice water. Drain and package into freezer bags or freezer containers, leaving ½-inch headspace.

For frying: Follow the above instructions, but before packaging, dredge in flour or cornmeal, spread in single layer on cookie sheet and freeze just until firm. Package quickly into freezer bags or containers, leaving ½-inch headspace.

Grated zucchini (for baking): Choose young tender zucchini. Wash and grate. Steam blanch in small quantities 1 to 2 minutes until translucent. Pack in measured amounts into containers, leaving ½-inch headspace. Cool by placing the containers in ice water. Seal and freeze. If watery when thawed, discard the liquid before using the zucchini.

Try this fresh recipe adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/index.html.

Skillet Zucchini with Chopped Tomatoes
1 tsp whipped light butter (or vegetable oil)
1 cup chopped onion
4 small (6 inch) zucchini, thinly sliced
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp dried basil or 1 tablespoon shredded fresh basil leaves
Fresh ground pepper

In a large nonstick skillet, melt margarine over medium heat; add onions and cook, stirring until softened. Add zucchini and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and basil and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until zucchini is tender-crisp. Season to taste with pepper.

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This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.