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Pickled Summer Squash

Updated on September 2, 2010

Pickles can be made from any firm fleshed fruit or vegetable. Some hold their shape and texture better than others, but don't let that deter you from trying something new. The most important thing in pickling is that you use fresh, firm, prime ingredients. Move your produce quickly from the garden to a pickling solution, because even a day at room temperature allows them to loose enough moisture to become hollow centered or shriveled pickles.

If you are planning to buy your produce, do so at a farmer's market as early in the day as possible, from producers who have picked their goods that morning.

Ingredients Used in Pickling:

Salt -- Use only pickling, dairy or kosher salt for pickle making. These salts are pure, free of iodine, which darkens pickles, and food grade.

Salt draws the moister and natural sugars out of foods and forms lactic acid to keep them from spoiling.

Vinegar -- Use high grade white or cider vinegar of 4-6% acidity. Most food grade white and cider vinegars, such as Heinz, are 5% acidity. White vinegar is preferred by most for pickle making, as it yields a light colored pickle.

Vinegar is used to preserve the pickle, as well as giving it it's tartness. Never reduce the amount of vinegar in a recipe if the solution is too tart. Instead, add more sweetener, as the acid is needed to maintain the quality of your pickles.

Sweetener -- Honey or white sugar are used in most pickling recipes. Occasionally brown or raw sugar is called for, but it makes a darker pickle.

Spices -- Fresh spices, kept in an airtight container are the best for pickling, because they will deliver the best flavor. Some recommend buying new spices each year for pickling. I have had success increasing the amount used, when my spices are older, as long as they still smell pungent.

Certain spices are customarily found in different types of pickles, but don't let that limit you. If you don't like a certain spice, remove it. I always omit celery seed. If you think a certain spice would taste good in your pickles, then try it. Maybe just a little in one jar, at first. Some of my favorite pickles have horseradish in them. Garlic cloves and bay leaves also leave a pleasant flavor. My sister likes adding curry and red pepper flakes to her pickles.

Equipment:

  • Glass canning jars, rings and lids, for storage
  • A large pot or two, for cooking the pickles
  • Colander
  • Ladle
  • Canning funnel
  • Towel, for cooling the jars on
  • Cutting board and knife

Use utensils and containers made of unchipped enamelware, stainless steel, glass or aluminum. Do not use anything that is made of copper, brass, iron or that is galvanized. These metals react with the salt and vinegar. I recommend checking your aluminum pots for reactions also, as one of mine, that was bought used, grows crystals every time I put vinegar in it. Because of this, I do not use it for soaking pickles. I have read no recommendations, one way or the other, concerning plastic, but knowing it's tendency to leach, I avoid it when pickling. My grandmother, on the other hand, always used it.

Yellow summer squash, 6-8" long.
Yellow summer squash, 6-8" long.
Egyptian onions, bottom sets.  Measure by weight.
Egyptian onions, bottom sets. Measure by weight.
Roasting pan filled with squash and onions, soaking in salt water.
Roasting pan filled with squash and onions, soaking in salt water.

Summer Squash

When pickling summer squash, zucchini is most often called for. Young, tender zucchini. But what if you grew something other than the normal garden variety of zucchini? Can you use it? My answer is yes. As long as the squash you have is firm and blemish free, it can be pickled with pleasing results. The end product might not have the commercial crunch, but they will be delicious eating, non the less.

This year, I have an abundance of yellow summer squash, Early Prolific Straightneck, by name, from Gurney's Seed & Nursery Co.

Please read through the recipe completely, before beginning to asses the amount of time it will take and the amount of ingredients needed. Feel free to substitute spices and types of vegetable, as desired.

Pickle recipes are easy to increase and decrease, depending on the amount of vegtables you have to work with.  The pickles shown in this article are Bread & Butter.  Each squash, sliced, resulted in 2-3 cups of produce.  I used the bottom sets of Egyptian onions, instead of regular onions, and quartered them, instead of slicing them.  I measured them by weight, instead of number, calculating a medium onion to weigh 6-8 ounces.  The amount of squash used resulted in quadrupling the recipe.

Filling and Sealing Jars

Fill clean jars with hot pickles.  Cap tightly with sterile lids.
Fill clean jars with hot pickles. Cap tightly with sterile lids.
Invert hot jars for 5 minutes, to seal.
Invert hot jars for 5 minutes, to seal.
Allow to cool, undisturbed, in a draft free area.
Allow to cool, undisturbed, in a draft free area.

Sealing Jars

There are two methods of sealing jars. Boiling-Water Bath and Inversion.

1. Boiling-Water Bath -- Fill, fit sterile lids to the jars, screw the rings down tightly and place hot, filled jars, upright, in hot water. Bring to a boil and process for 5 minutes. Remove jars from water and cool on a towel, in a draft free area. As the jars cool they will ping, letting you know that the jar has sealed. You can check the seal by pressing on the lid.

2. Inversion Method, illustrated right -- Fill with hot produce, fit sterile lids to the jars, screw the rings down tightly and flip jars upside down. Set your timer for 5 minutes. When the timer goes off turn the jars upright and allow to cool. As they cool, they will ping, letting you know they are sealed. You can check the seal by pressing on the lid.

Bread and Butter Pickles

A sweet, pleasant pickle.

  • 2 quarts thinly sliced unpeeled firm squash
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • water to cover vegtables
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

Method:

  1. Combine squash and onions. Sprinkle with salt and cover with cold water. Let stand 2 hours.
  2. Drain, rinse with fresh water and drain again.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients in pot, heat to boiling, and cook for 2 minutes. Add vegtables and remove from heat. Let stand 2 hours.
  4. Bring to a boil again and cook 5 minutes.
  5. Ladle hot pickles into hot, clean jars and seal.

Makes about 4 pints.

*Adapted from Putting Food By

 

Sliced Squash Pickles

A tart, enjoyable pickle.  This simple recipe yields an old-fashioned flavor that pairs well with most things.

  • 4 quarts sliced unpeeled squash
  • 1 quart sliced, peeled onions
  • 4 cups vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard

Method:

  1. Prepare vegtables and place in pot.
  2. Bring remaining ingredients to a boil and pour over vegtables. Let stand 1 hour.
  3. Bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Pack into hot jars and seal.

Makes 6-7 pints.

* Adapted from Farm Journal's Contry Cookbook.

Pickled Squash

Very similar to the above recipe, but more fully flavored and healthier.

  • 4 pounds thinly sliced, unpeeled squash
  • 1 pound peeled, thinly sliced white onions
  • water to cover vegtables
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 4 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seed

Method:

  1. Combine squash and onions. Sprinkle with salt and cover with cold water. Let stand 1 hour. Drain.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients, heat to boiling, and pour over vegtables. Let stand 1 hour.
  3. Return to heat, bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes.
  4. Ladle hot pickles into hot, clean jars and seal.

Makes 4 pints.

*Adapted from Stocking Up.

Dilled Squash Pickles

Dill pickles are tart and refreshing.  For a pickle with more zip substitute red pepper flakes for celery seeds and add a clove or two of garlic to each jar before filling.

  • 4 quarts sliced unpeeled squash
  • 1 quart sliced, peeled onions
  • 4 cups vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 2 teaspoons dill seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard

Method:

  1. Prepare vegtables and place in pot.
  2. Bring remaining ingredients to a boil and pour over vegtables. Let stand 1 hour.
  3. Bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Pack into hot jars and seal.

Makes 6-7 pints.

* Adapted from Farm Journal's Contry Cookbook.

 

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    • ButterflyWings profile image

      ButterflyWings 6 years ago

      My, but those pickles are pretty! I didn't have enough red onions this year to use them in pickling, but I bet I will next year. I need to move some Egyptian Onion sets from my old place to the new, as well as a bit from each color of wild hedge rose, and then I'll feel all set!

      It's funny that you have experimented with your pickle making this year. I decided to try several different flavors of green beans, as well as zucchini salsa (because my tomatillos didn't grow), and a bunch of squash pickles (because my cucumbers were all eaten by insects). I have some other plans for later in the fall, but we'll see how things go.

      Lovely recipes! I'll keep them in mind.

    • WRITTENBYSHAWN profile image

      WRITTENBYSHAWN 6 years ago from Port William, Ohio

      Great hub...I am canning beans tonight, I will try one of the recipes tommorrow with my squash. Thanks for sharing.

    • CYBERSUPE profile image

      CYBERSUPE 6 years ago from MALVERN, PENNSYLVANIA, U.S.A.

      I do love Bread and Butter Pickles and thank you so much for sharing this recipe, which souds so good. Can't wait to try it.

    • Christa Dovel profile image
      Author

      Christa Dovel 6 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Thank you ButterflyWings! My cucumbers have not grown the way I would like them to, so I am looking for ways of make plenty of pickles, without relying on them.

      Let me know what kinds of experimenting you are doing with the green beans. I made Dilly beans last year, for the first time, and we love them! So I am going to try making some Bread and Butter beans this year, along with a mustard pickle recipe, if I can find it again.

    • Christa Dovel profile image
      Author

      Christa Dovel 6 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Hello Shawn~ Tomorrow, I will be tackling my green beans! As my family does not like them canned, I will be pickling them.

    • Christa Dovel profile image
      Author

      Christa Dovel 6 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Cybersupe, your welcome, and I hope you enjoy this your pickles. We had a jar of them with supper tonight. Every last bit was eaten.

    • betcaro profile image

      betcaro 6 years ago

      Thank you so much for this hub! I have canned and made preserves for years, but never pickles. I want to try pickles this season. :-)

    • Christa Dovel profile image
      Author

      Christa Dovel 6 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Your welcome, Betcaro. I think jams and pickles are the easiest ways to preserve food.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      These are great tips and recipes. Thank for sharing.

    • LiftedUp profile image

      LiftedUp 6 years ago from Plains of Colorado

      For years I didn't think of deviating much from what the canning and pickling books suggested for recipes, but then I began to consider how so many things were pickled in the days before refrigeration, and began to think of experimenting. I'm glad your squash pickles turned out well! And your Egyptian onions add an interesting color of their own.

      My favorite Bread and Butter recipe uses a few cloves with the other spices, and I like the bite they give.

    • Christa Dovel profile image
      Author

      Christa Dovel 6 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      You're welcome, Hello, hello. Thanks for stopping by.

      It was a similar vein of thinking that led me to experimenting with recipes, LiftedUp. Then, there are the 'Garden Melody' pickle recipes, in old cookbooks, which say to gather left overs from the garden and combine them, often they suggest apples, cauliflower, beans and such. Plus, my grandma use to make some sort of refrigerator pickle, where she would put all sorts of things from the garden in a large bowl in the fridge, covered with salt water (plus some other ingredints, I'd guess) and I always loved how even radishes would be delicious.

    • ButterflyWings profile image

      ButterflyWings 6 years ago

      I just tried an old recipe for something I would never have thought of - turnip relish. It's very simple - includes shredded or diced turnips, onions, vinegar, sugar, and paprika - and boy, is it ever good! I used it on hamburgers for lunch, and the kids liked it too.

      I had never used paprika in pickles before, but I used a high quality, and I like the effect.

    • Christa Dovel profile image
      Author

      Christa Dovel 6 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Thanks for the tidbit, ButterflyWings. I'll have to see if I can't find a recipe like that... I have all sorts of radishes on hand, and need something to do with them.

    • ButterflyWings profile image

      ButterflyWings 6 years ago

      I've rarely had enough radishes to bother doing anything but eating them out of hand, but it sounds great!

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