Do you have extra summer squash? If you’re like most home gardeners, you probably do. Squash grows abundantly and it’s easy to find yourself with more than you can eat. The good news is there are several ways to preserve it.


Caning squash is no longer recommended. When the U.S. Department of Agriculture retested the old directions during a complete revision of the USDA guides, the results were not coming up consistently safe. We have not accepted canned squash at the Southeast Arkansas District Livestock Show and Fair for several years.


Freezing, drying, or pickling is a safe way to save your extra squash for fall, winter, and spring meals. Remember to cut pieces in uniform sizes and allow the recommended head-space.


Freezing vegetables is one of the easiest, most convenient and least time-consuming ways to preserve foods.


INSTRUCTIONS FOR FREEZING SUMMER SQUASH


Wash, trim, and cut into ¼ inch slices.


Blanch by boiling or steaming for about 3 to 5 minutes. This destroys the enzymes and bacteria that would, over time, remove nutrients and flavor from the squash.


Cool in ice water for at least 3 minutes. Moving quickly from heat to cold ensures the squash won’t be overcooked.


Drain. This will remove excess moisture and prepare the squash for freezing.


Spread the slices in single layer on cookie sheet and freeze just until firm.


Package into freezer bags or freezer containers, leaving ½-inch headspace. Seal, label with squash name and date, and then freeze.


To freeze squash for frying, follow the instructions above, but before packaging, dredge in seasoned flour or cornmeal, spread in single layer on cookie sheet, and freeze until firm. Then package the seasoned, frozen squash pieces into freezer bags.


INSTRUCTIONS FOR DRYING SQUASH


Wash, trim, and cut into ¼ inch slices. Be sure to keep slices uniform in size so they will dry at the same rate.


Blanch by boiling or steaming for about 3 minutes.


Cool in ice water for at least 3 minutes.


Drain slices and arrange them in a single layer on a dehydrator tray.


Place dryer trays into the dehydrator and dry for 10-12 hours or until slices are crisp and brittle.


Store in an airtight container.


INSTRUCTIONS FOR PICKLING SQUASH


Squash Pickles I


Ingredients: 2 pounds fresh, firm zucchini or yellow summer squash, 2 small onions, ¼ cup salt, 2 cups white sugar, 1 teaspoon celery salt, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 2 teaspoons mustard seed, 3 cups cider vinegar (5%).


Wash squash and cut in thin slices. Peel and slice onions thinly. Place onions and squash/zucchini in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Cover with cold water and stir to blend in salt. Let stand 2 hours. Drain thoroughly. Bring remaining ingredients to a boil. Pour over squash and onions. Let stand 2 hours. Bring all ingredients to a boil and heat 5 minutes. Pack vegetables into hot jars. Leave ½ inch headspace. Fill jars to ½ inch from top with boiling liquid. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. Yield: 2 pint jars.


Squash Pickles II


Ingredients: 4 pounds fresh summer squash, ¼ cup salt, 1 quart vinegar (5%), 1 cup water, Dill seed (1 teaspoon per pint), Garlic, if desired (1 clove per pint).


Wash and slice squash. Pack garlic, dill seed, and squash into jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Bring vinegar, water, and salt to a boil; simmer 5 minutes. Fill jars to ½ inch from top with boiling hot liquid. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. Yield: 5 pint jars.


If you have an abundance of squash in the garden, try one of these preservation methods. Just remember, food safety is always evolving so it’s important to use recipes that have been scientifically tested and are up to date. There’s a ton of information on canning out there, but if you want to do it safely, the sites you should refer to are So Easy to Preserve and the National Center for Home Food Preservation.


DETAILS ON PRESERVING FOODS


For more information on preserving foods at home, contact Mary Ann Kizer at 870534-1033 or e-mail mkizer@uaex.edu or follow Kizer on Facebook at @uaexJeffersonCoFCSMaryAnnKizer. The Cooperative Extension Service is your source for reliable information. We connect trusted research to the adoption of best practices.


The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without discrimination.


— Mary Ann Kizer is a family and consumer sciences agent at the Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the U of A Division of Agriculture.