It’s that time of year – the time when you begin to fantasize about driving around, finding unlocked cars and throwing in some of your summer squash – my God, those plants are bountiful!
I love summer squash, all year. I do not like the look or the price of it in the winter – trucked in from God knows where.
The USDA says, “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squashes, including zucchini, that appeared in former editions of So Easy to Preserve or USDA bulletins have been withdrawn due to uncertainty about the determination of processing times.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.”
but if we can it properly and cook it well (bring it to a full boil and boil it for 10 minutes) before we eat it, it will be fine, squishy, but fine.
Squash is a low acid vegetable – and that means pressure canning is the only safe method of canning it.
Wash and rinse your jars and keep them hot. Since we are pressure canning, it is not necessary to sterilize the jars beforehand. The USDA says:
Empty jars used for vegetables, meats, and fruits to be processed in a pressure canner need not be presterilized. It is also unnecessary to presterilize jars for fruits, tomatoes, and pickled or fermented foods that will be processed 10 minutes or longer in a boiling-water canner.
Wash your squash and cut it into about 1” cubes or slices. Place the chopped squash in a large pan and cover them with water. Heat to a boil — then boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile, place the rack in the bottom of your pressure canner and add boiling water to the proper fill line (see the directions for your particular pressure canner). Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to the water in the pressure canner which keeps film from forming on the jars during processing.
Place your lids (not rings) in a small pan, add water and bring to a boil.
Using a slotted spoon, dish out the boiled squash and fill each jar leaving an inch of space in the top. Place 1/2 teaspoon of canning salt on the squash (optional). Ladle boiling water over the squash until just covered (maintain the inch head space). Remove bubbles in the jar by running a knife around the inside of the jar and pressing inward slightly, wipe the rim of the jar. Use a magnet to remove the lid from the boiling water, then lower it on the jar and secure the lid in place with a ring. The ring should be finger tight – do not Superman down the rings or the lids will buckle. Now, place the jar in the canner, the water in the canner should also be hot. Repeat.
Process pints for 30 minutes or quarts for 40 minutes at 10 pounds pressure for elevations under 1,000 ft, and 15 lbs pressure for elevations over 1,000 ft (this is us folks). Be sure you follow the directions you have for your canner so that you don’t have any mishaps. Also, do not expedite the cooling process in any way.
Squash Soup – Note: Longer pressure canning time than just squash
Another way I like to preserve squash for the winter is squash soup. The recipe for this is pretty subjective actually, and you will need to taste it as you go along to get it how you like it.
I cut my squash cut into ½ – 1” rings or cubes and place in a large stockpot. Since I usually make enough for a full canner load and some to just eat, I fill my big stock pot about 2/3 to ¾ full of squash. Add some water or broth (to about ¼ to 1/3 the total of the squash). I usually use water and Knorr chicken bouillon, between ¼ c to 1/2c (Knorr since it seems less salty than most), tasting it before adding more.
Bring it to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes, until nice and soft.
I chop about 2 onions, and simmer then in a little olive oil or butter – just enough to keep them from sticking, then add them to the pan of squash. At this point I add misc spices, some garlic and seasoning salt and maybe some celery or celery seed – whatever tastes good. Then I use my hand blender and puree it. Pureeing it will thicken the soup – BUT DO NOT ADD ANY ADDITIONAL THICKENER. If you desire thicker soup than just pureeing it, do it AFTER you pour it out of the jar to eat, do not add it before canning.
Pour it into quart jars and pressure can. Because I’ve added onions and things other than the squash, I pressure can it at 15lbs pressure for the full time for onions or meat (bouillon) – 90 minutes – just to be sure. I most certainly do not want to take the risk of someone being careless or forgetful and tasting a spoon, and dying of botulism poisoning because I did not pressure can the soup long enough to kill the botulism spores.