“From the Garden to the Table – Summer Squash,” is the first blog post in my “From the Garden to the Table” series. I will be writing posts on various fruits, vegetables and wild plants that grow around my Peaceful Forest Homestead. This way I can share with you how to grow various plants, and how to preserve them and serve them. I will show you how to make them become a part of your homestead food plan.
When I first started out in this lifestyle, I canned sweet jellies, jams and pickles too. Did we really eat all of them? Over time, we did. Only because we do not waste any food at all. I have stopped doing that type of canning long ago. For one thing, we never put jelly or jam on toast, especially now, since we both eat low carbs. If I am going to eat something that is a high carb, I’d much rather buy some ice cream! No way am I going to waste it on jelly or jam. I want to research and hone in my skills on growing, preserving and preparing foods that we love and want to eat again and again. That is what this series on my blog will be about.
Summer squash can provide plenty of winter meals. I use it in casseroles, as well as a side dish covered in butter. Does your summer squash really need to be sliced to be preserved? No, it doesn’t. Cube it instead. Even if you are not canning it, freezing it this way should prevent it from cooking up mushy. If you need some slices for some of your recipes, like squash chips, you can dehydrate those. Can up the rest of it and it will sit on your pantry shelves until you need them.
The steps to preparing summer squash for canning is:
- Wash the squash off real good. Nothing is worse than getting dirt on your newly peeled squash.
- Cut each end off and then peel it.
- I usually cut them in fourths, down the center. Standing up on one end, you can easily slice it right down the middle to the other end. Keeping them together that way, while I cut it in four long slices. Like a cucumber.
- Now I take each fourth and scoop the seeds out of the center.
- Put them on the cutting board and cut in cubes. I put all four on the board at once, if they aren’t too big.
- They are cubed! Now wasn’t that easy?
The next step will be how to can summer squash, which will be in my very next post. I have the directions on my old blog, but I am changing that blog and want all my homesteading information on this one. One of the questions people have with canning squash, is that they think it is not safe, due to what the “professional canners” say. They had the recipe in the older canning books, but decided it is not safe to do. You will be using a pressure canner, and you need to use one, as this is a low acid food, and needs to be pressure canned only. Here is what they say about it:
“Why is canning summer squash or zucchini not recommended?
- Recommendations for canning summer squashes, including zucchini, that appeared in former editions of So Easy to Preserve or USDA bulletins have been withdrawn due to uncertainty about the determination of processing times.
- Squashes are low-acid vegetables and require pressure canning for a known period of time that will destroy the bacteria that cause botulism.
- Documentation for the previous processing times cannot be found, and reports that are available do not support the old process.
- Slices or cubes of cooked summer squash will get quite soft and pack tightly into the jars.
- The amount of squash filled into a jar will affect the heating pattern in that jar.
- It is best to freeze summer squashes or pickle them for canning, but they may also be dried.”
After reading that you will need to decide what you feel safe doing. As I know, I feel safe doing it and I know my squash is pressure canned properly. I am not new to this and have always followed safe procedures. It is not tightly packed in the jars and I can’t imagine any summer squash becoming tight in the jars. In fact, many times, in the process of making a recipe, I have to use an extra jar, because it didn’t fill the jar completely. My jars of canned summer squash are boiling inside, when I take them out of the canner. I feel that the “canning professionals” are always on the look out for some new rule or regulation. If they had it their way, nobody would be canning their own food to begin with. Though then they might be out of their jobs! Stay tuned for my next post on how to can your summer harvest of summer squash and zucchini.
Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole