When you have a bumper crop or get a good deal at the farmers’ market, canning squash makes it possible for you to make the best use of your harvest. It’s easy to can squash at home with the right supplies. Your family and friends will also appreciate gifts of canned squash, made with the produce of your own garden. This squash canning guide will give you tips on canning squash that help you to make the best use of every crop.
Can canned squash be used like fresh squash?
Canned squash can be used in almost every recipe that would require fresh squash. It’s important to note that for some beverage recipes and those that cater to people who prefer to use raw fruits and vegetables, this option will not be suitable. However, you can use canned squash in your pies, mash and other tasty side dishes. This squash canning guide will help you to ensure that you have squash ready for any meal.
Can you can summer squash?
According to the USDA, some types of squash should not be canned, so if you plant summer squash , you cannot preserve it by canning. It’s not ideal; for you to can summer squash and this guide is written for winter squash. Again, while some canning enthusiasts may try to do so at home, the USDA does not recommend canning summer squash. This is because there is still a level of uncertainty regarding the duration of adequate processing times for summer squash.
Summer squash are vegetables that are low in acid. As such, you will need to ensure that they are pressure canned for a known period of time in order to ensure that all bacteria is destroyed. The bacteria that causes botulism is of special concern. While botulism is rare, it is potentially fatal.
Botulism is caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Weakness, blurred vision, trouble speaking and feeling tired are all symptoms of the disease. Proper food preparation is a key element of prevention and it is important for all home chefs to follow proper procedures such as refrigerating foods within two hours of cooking, cooking food thoroughly and avoiding canned foods that are bulging or appear damaged.
Available reports do not support the old process of canning squash that is reaped in the summer. Tests of the old process showed that it did not heat the summer squash enough to ensure that the canned product was safe. When cubes or slices of cooked summer squash are in a jar, they will pack tightly in that jar, affecting the heating pattern. This can result in some of the cubes being inadequately cooked, making the product in the jar unsafe.
Summer squash is low in calories and is a good source of nutrients such as Vitamin C and potassium. If you grow summer squash and have a large amount that you want to preserve, the USDA advises that you should do so by freezing it. You can also dry them in an electrical dehydrator or by using another dehydration method. if you like canning, you will need to pickle summer squash and then can it.
Can you can mashed or pureed winter squash?
The USDA does not currently recommend that you can mashed or pureed winter squash. The research necessary to develop a safe method of canning squash that has been mashed or pureed, has not been done. The USDA recommends that squash be cut into cubes that are one inch thick for processing. If you have already pureed squash and are now interested in preserving it, freezing is the method that is recommended by the USDA.
Pureed or mashed squash tends to have variations in viscosity that make it difficult to ensure that all of the squash is receiving the same amount of heat. This means that a portion of the puree could be sufficiently heated while another portion could remain at temperatures that are low enough to allow the botulism bacteria to thrive.
This variation is too wide for researchers to calculate a single processing recommendation that would sufficiently cover the entire range of puree. If bacteria are present in the batch and are able to survive processing and enough water is in the product, the bacteria can thrive and produce a toxin in the can. This means that you would open a can of puree and unknowingly put yourself at risk when you’re preparing a meal with that canned product.
Pickling and Canning Summer Squash
Most pf the content in this guide to canning pickled summer squash should only be applied to pickled squash. It should not be applied if vinegar has not been used with the squash. Vinegar is essential in this process since it is a mild acid. By adding vinegar to the summer squash, you raise the acidity of the squash. This makes it difficult for any bacteria, such as Clostridium botulinum, to grow inside the can after it has been sealed.
This recipe also uses salt. The salt makes it difficult for bacteria to grow as well. These two elements make it safer for you to can summer squash, ensuring that you can use it with your meals with confidence in the future.
This guide uses spices which are recommended by the USDA. You can safely use these to improve the flavor of your canned pickled summer squash. You will need the following to prepare two pints of summer squash pickles:
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1/4 cup salt
- 2 small onions
- 2 pounds fresh yellow summer squash
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoons mustard seed
- 3 cups cider vinegar
This recipe will help you to have sweet summer squash pickles available throughout the year. Step seven below produces a light syrup, which should be used to cover the squash and onions.
- Wash the pickles and cut them into thin slices.
- Peel the onions and cut them into thin slices.
- Place the onions and squash in a large bowl and sprinkle the slices with salt.
- Cover them with cold water and blend so that the salt will form a salt water solution.
- Let stand for two hours.
- Drain thoroughly.
- Bring the other ingredients to a boil and ensure that the are heated at this temperature for five minutes.
- Pack the vegetables into hot jars, with 1/2 inch headspace.
- Pour the boiling mixture into the jars, up to 1/2 inch form the top.
- Remove any air bubbles
- Wipe the rims
- Adjust the lids
- Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.
Selecting Winter Squash for Canning
The winter squash that you use for canning should always be of a certain quality. The rind of the squash should be hard. Its pulp should be mature and stringless. .If the squash is so soft that you know it will start to mash during processing, do not use it for canning. The pulp should be firm enough for cooking fresh.
Cleaning and Sterilizing your Jars
Your jars and lids should always be in good shape before you use them for canning. if any appear to be damaged in any way, do not use them. If the jar rings are dented or rusty, do not use them. Your jars can be cleaned in your dishwasher if it gets really hot. You can allow your jars and lids to simmer in your dishwasher, so that they stay hot until the point when you are ready to use them.
It’s important that you store your jars and lids under the right conditions whenever they are not in use. A damp environment, such as that found in some basements, can cause the sealing compound in the jar lid to disintegrate over time.
Using Canning Salt
You can use regular salt for canning squash. However, if you like to can squash and other foods often, you may want to insider using canning salt. This is specially produced for canning and forms a clear brine. Some types do not contain iodine or other additives. Although iodine is good for you, it can make your pickles change color.
Pickling salt is granulated salt or pure sodium chloride. Unlike table slat, it does not contain anti-caking ingredients. These ingredients have the tendency to turn your pickling liquid cloudy. It has fine granules, making it easy to dissolve and form a solution which is ideal for preserving your squash. Pure sea salt and pure Kosher salt can also be used instead of pickling salt since they are both free of additives.
Wash to Remove Contaminants
Winter squash should be washed thoroughly to remove contaminants. You should always wash the squash before you start peeling. This is because if you do not, you could drive contaminants on the surface of the squash into the flesh with the knife. To avoid having this happen while you are peeling, ensure that the squash is properly washed.
Remove the Ends
Take off the ends of the squash. You can use a large, heavy knife to easily pierce the skin of the squash. Ensure that your knife is sharp. Once you have it wedged into the skin, lean into it and use your weight to push the knife through the resilient flesh. Ensure that the tips of your fingers are kept safely out of the way during this process.
All seeds should be removed from the winter squash that you will use for canning. Although you’ve removed the seeds from your squash, that does not mean you have to throw them away. You can give them to a friend if you have enough, or you can roast them and enjoy them as a snack.
Roasted squash seeds can be prepared by removing most of the little bits of squash by rinsing, tossing them in oil and slow roasting them in your oven. Don’t remove all the squash, since the roasted seeds taste better with a little squash on them. Toss the seeds with a spatula midway through, to ensure that they are roasted evenly.
Cut Into Cubes
You can cut the winter squash into slices that are one inch thick and peel each slice, or your can peel it and then cut it into slices. The flesh of the squash s usually so firm that you’ll find it easier to peel it after you’ve cut the lengthwise strips. However, ensure that the slices are this size, since this is the size that is recommended by the USDA for safe processing.
Sometimes you may have a lot of squash to prepare. If you are canning squash in bulk, you can wash, peel and cube them from the night before. Ensure that the cubes are stored in the refrigerator overnight. When you’re ready to start canning, take the cubes out of the refrigerator about an hour before you want to start blanching them. Cut the squash into 1-inch cubes, as this is the size recommended by the USDA .
Boil the Cubes
Boil the cubes for two minutes in water. Do not blanch the cubes for more than two minutes. If you do so, they will start to break down and this will cause problems. The process which is recommended by the USDA uses two minutes for this step. This is enough to ensure that the squash will be preserved properly.
Fill the jars with the cubes and boiling water, leaving a 1-inch headspace. Headspace plays an important role when you are canning squash. You should never overfill the jar. Sufficient space should always be left between the underside of the lid and the top of the food or liquid within the jar. The jar should not be filed to the level where the lid can come into contact with the liquid or food that is stored inside the container.
Some completely empty space should always be under the lid. When you don’t leave enough headspace, you may not get a good seal. This can cause your suash to spoil. Even if you end up with a little extra headspace after processing is complete, this is not a problem. You’ll have a good seal and that is what is important.
Adjust the lids of the cans and process. Always screw down the band fingertip tight. Do not use excessive force or use a jar tightener during this stage. Air should be able to freely escape the jar during processing and if it cannot, it will cause the lid to buckle. You should not adjust the lid after processing.
A pint jar will have to be processed for 55 minutes to be cooked properly in your pressure canner. A quart jar will require 90 minutes of processing in the same canner. You’ll need at least 10 pounds of pressure.
Low-acid foods are not usually processed in a water canner because they can take up to 12 hours to be processed properly. Using a pressure canner reduces the time for processing. When you use a pressure canner, you’ll usually finish processing your squash in 100 minutes or less. In some households, people do use water canners for squash but the most efficient way to do this is with a pressure canner.
Always allow the pressure canner to cool down completely before you remove the lid. You can lift the jars out safely by using a jar lifter. If your pressure canner uses a dial gauge, have it checked annually to make sure that it is working properly. The gasket of your pressure canner should also be checked, to ensure that it is soft and pliable.
Pressure canners should always be used with winter squash. Canning squash by using a water canner is not recommended. Water canners are for tomatoes, jams, jellies, and such. You will need a pressure canner for your squash, other vegetables and other products that contain low-acid foods. You can clean your canner when you are cleaning your countertop and everything else that you will use, ensuring that you do as much as possible to reduce the potential sources of contamination in the process.
How to Know that the Seal is Good
You can place the jars on your kitchen counter to cool. Once each jar has been successfully sealed, you will usually hear a ping. This pinging sound gives you auditory confirmation that a good seal has been made. However, there are times when you may be busily working and miss that pinging sound.
If you don’t hear the ping, you can check for seal quality in other ways. You can press down in the center of each lid, checking to see if it moves up and down. The lid should not move. Instead, it should feel solid and concave. If the lid can move, it means that a good seal has not been created.
You can also check the seal quality by tapping the top of each lid. You should hear a tinny sound, indicating that a good seal has been formed. If you get a hollow sound instead, it means that a good seal has not been formed. Good seals are strong enough to hold the weight of the entire jar, so that even if you remove the band around the lid, you can hold the jar up by the lid, without any mishaps.