Monday, August 13, 2012

Squash Pickles and Summer Canning

Ah summer, when fruits and veggies are plentiful. Well that is if you take care of your gardens! And despite sharing our harvests, we end up with way more than we can eat normally. Which is ok because there are many ways to preserve all that abundance.

I have always wanted to garner the courage to can or pickle things. But I was always intimidated by the process. Bolstered on by all that I remember from my childhood of the wonderful foods my grandmother put away every year that she shared with us, I finally have waded into canning or pickling.

My first attempt earlier this summer was Rhubarb Strawberry Jam  and a batch of Rhubarb Conserve. And I had success! Now, I've finally figured out it's not all that hard, and you really don't have to have all the fancy canning equipment!. 

So onward.....

For the first time in many years, I have a vegetable garden, I've missed having one terribly and it's been a long time since I have grown all sorts of goodies! I'm growing summer yellow squash, white patty pan squash (two of my faves), beets, kale, chard, green beans, wax beans, and much more yummy stuff! However, due to planting so many plants or seeds rather, I find that I now have an extreme abundance of squash! I've shared with friends and still have more than I can eat! So..... I decided to pickle it based on memories of grandmother's pickled zucchini. I took basic recipe proportions from several ideas and this is what I came up with.

Oh, yeah, and I had one of those monsters that grew hidden, so I had to do something with it as I figured the skin would be too tough at that size!

Pickled Summer Squash, Bread and Butter style.

  • 4 lb yellow squash washed, and sliced into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick slices, halve the slices if need be.
  • 2 large onions, halved top to bottom, then sliced
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 quart crushed ice plush 2 cups ice water
  • 2 1/4 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
Wash and sterilize 6, pint canning jars and lids. Fill a large covered stockpot with enough water to cover several jars at a time for the boiling water bath.
Place sliced squash and onions in a large non-reactive bowl, sprinkle on the 1/4 cup of kosher salt, mix gently with hands. cover with ice and ice water. Cover the bowl and set aside for 3 to 4 hours to sit. 
In a medium non-reactive saucepan, bring the vinegar, sugar, water, mustard seeds, turmeric, fennel seeds, allspice, celery seeds, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons canning salt to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. 
Bring the water in the large stockpot to a boil over medium-high to high heat. Remember that the water level will rise with each jar submerged. 
Drain the squash and onions and pack into the sterilized pint jars, leaving about 1/2 to 1/4 inch space to the lip of the jar. Ladle or carefully pour in the hot vinegar mixture over the squash covering the squash fully. Use a butter knife to remove air bubbles around the sides of the jars. Wipe clean the rims and threads on the jars. Place on lids and secure the bands down well. 
Place the jars, 3 at a time, carefully into the boiling water bath, cover the pot and boil for 10 minutes. Using jar tongs, remove each jar to cool on a towel on the counter. Repeat with the remaining 3 jars.  Allow to cool fully. And for the best flavor, let pickles sit for a week before chilling and enjoying!
You should get these yummy looking lovely yellow pickles!

Now on to my second endeavor this weekend. I love apple butter, and pumpkin butter and have always desired to make peach butter. So with the abundance of large lovely peaches this year, I dove right in to making some. 
And yeah, it's yummy!

Fresh Peach Butter

  • 4 to 4 1/2 lbs fresh washed peaches
  • 2 Tbl lime juice, fresh
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice

Halve the peaches and remove the pits. Slice wedges and cube the slices, placing them in a large stockpot. Now note, you can peel them or not, depends on if you have a food mill or a good processor.

Add the sugar and water to the peaches and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium and for about 20 or so minutes, or until the peaches are extremely tender. Remove the pot from the heat and in batches, puree the peaches and liquid. Return the puree to the pot and add the lime juice, cinnamon and allspice. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let simmer 30 to 40 minutes until the mixture has thickened.

Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil (for the jar bath).

Spoon butter into sterilized jars. Clean rims and threads of the jars and add a sterilized top and screw closed. Place jars into the boiling water bath, cover and boil for 10 minutes. Using jar tongs, remove to a towel to cool fully.
This recipe makes 3, one pint jars full. Personally, I love the color I got with the beautiful red skins on my peaches. And oh yeah, it's good. I can't wait to use it in bread or on bread or french toast, or gluten-free coconut flour biscuits. I bet it's even good on Brie and crackers!

Now I don't feel as intimidated about canning, I'm looking forward to doing and trying much more, to include grandma's wonderful dilly beans. It really is a good way to preserve summer's harvest to enjoy all year.

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