News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Summer quash is a very versatile vegetable to preserve

Linn County Master Gardener

OSU Linn County Master Food Preserver.

What are gardeners doing this week, besides watering almost every morning? Shredding zucchini!  

Why shred? To freeze in quart bags for baking zucchini bread, chocolate zucchini cake and whatever other recipes one can find for zucchini and yellow summer squash. 

Sliced squash can also be frozen. For best quality, blanch half-inch slices for three minutes, cool in ice water and drain before packaging for the freezer. 

Shredded zucchini for baking is best steam blanched in small batches for one to two minutes until transparent and drained before packaging. If the squash is watery when thawed, lightly press it and discard the liquid before measuring for baking.

How else can you preserve summer squash? Have you tried dried zucchini chips? 

Food safety researchers do not recommend canning zucchini and other summer squash because they have not determined any amount of processing time required to kill clostridium botulinum bacteria without turning the squash to mush. 

Low acid foods require pressure canning for safety and the results with squash are undesirable. Except pickled squash. There are many recipes for squash pickles that use vinegar to acidify the vegetable for water bath canning. 

A bread-and-butter zucchini recipe is a good use of sliced summer squash, even more interesting with a mix of colors in the jar. The University of Georgia Extension tested recipe makes eight or nine pint jars, making a bunch of squash useful in winter.  

Slice 16 cups of squash and 4 cups of onions, cover with one inch of water and a half cup canning (plain, non-iodized) salt. Let it stand for two hours and drain thoroughly. Combine four cups of 5 percent white vinegar, 2 cups sugar, 4 tablespoons mustard seed, 2 tablespoons celery seed and 2 teaspoons ground turmeric, and bring it to a boil. Add zucchini and onions and simmer five minutes. Fill jars with 1/2 inch headspace and process pints or quarts for 10 minutes in boiling water bath.

Another way to “pickle” summer squash is to turn it into pineapple for cooking and salads.We aren’t able to grow pineapple here (yet, wait for climate change). So cutting the peeled and seeded squash into half-inch cubes or “tidbits” is an easy way to put pineapple-zucchini on the shelves for baking or salads year-round. 

The USDA-approved recipe is from the National Center for Home Food Preservation (nchfp.uga.edu) uses canned unsweetened pineapple juice and lemon juice to acidify the squash for safe canning in a boiling water bath.  

It’s simple: mix 4 quarts of cubed zucchini with 46 ounces of unsweetened pineapple juice, 1 ½ cups bottled lemon juice and 3 cups sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes. Fill hot jars with a half-inch headspace and process in water bath for 15 minutes. 

For extra success in sealing the jars, don’t forget to wipe the jar rim before placing the lid. Put the ring on only finger-tight to allow air to escape during the boiling process. Cover the jars with at least one inch of water to put downward pressure on the lids. 

After processing time completes, turn off the canner, remove the lid and let the jars sit in the hot water for five minutes to get a better vacuum on the seal. Place hot jars on a towel to cool to avoid temperature shock on a cold surface that could break the jar. Label the jar or lid with the product name and date. 

These recipes are so good that they will be used before the date is necessary information, but the sealed jars can be stored for years in a cool, dark place. 

For more guidance, download the free OSU Extension Canning Timer and Checklist App for IOS and Android. The app will guide you through the canning process for over 50 foods, including pickles, jams, jellies, vegetables, meats and seafood. It signals when the canning time is completed, and keeps us on track for safe procedures. Get it at https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/pnw689.

If you’re not into baking or canning, and the squash is getting ahead of you, put it on the curb with a “free” sign, take it to another neighborhood at night, leave it on someone’s doorstep, give it to the Gleaners, or bury it for soil fertility where you won’t mind the seeds sprouting next year.

Previous Article

Linn County Sheriff’s Office Log: Aug. 23 – 29

Next Article

Calendar

You might be interested in …

It’s time to remove hazardous vegetation

The 2022 fire season is on the horizon and the City of Gates would like to remind property owners to keep their property free of hazardous vegetation.  The term “hazardous vegetation” shall mean vegetation that […]