Fall = squash time
Submitted to The Union
Yes, it’s squash time and there is a lot out there. I have been doing some reading on the different types of squash and how to preserve them for winter. You can dehydrate them, freeze them and pressure can them. The varieties that are out there are amazing — different shapes, colors and sizes. The ones I use the most are butternut and jack-o’-lantern pumpkins.
They are thick skinned, sweet and great for winter storage. Remember, food storage is important at any time of the year. I learned how to make scratch pumpkin pies using regular pumpkins about 19 years ago.
The difference in these and what you find in a Libby’s pumpkin can is that it is not pumpkin; it is usually Hubbard, butternut and Boston marrow. They are less stringy and richer in sweetness and color. But it doesn’t matter what kind of squash. They still make for great winter eating.
Any type of squash needs to be pressure canned; here is what you need to do.
Procedure: Wash, remove seeds, cut into 1-inch-wide slices and peel. Cut flesh into 1-inch cubes. Boil two minutes in water. Caution: Do not mash or puree. Fill jars with cubes and cooking liquid, leaving 1-inch headspace. When you hot pack your squash, pints will need to be pressure canned at 12 to 15 pounds depending on your altitude for 55 minutes. Quarts will need to be canned for 90 minutes. Remember to use reputable websites on the Internet when doing research for canning.
Also, home canning is not recommended for pumpkin butter or any mashed or pureed pumpkin or winter squash. In 1989, the USDA’s Extension Service published the Complete Guide to Home Canning that remains the basis of Extension recommendations today, found in the September 1994 revision.
The only directions for canning pumpkin and winter squash are for cubed pulp. In fact, the directions for preparing the product include the statement, “Caution: Do not mash or puree.” Squash is dense and therefore heat does not penetrate correctly when canning. If you do not want to pressure can your squash or cook, mash or puree and freeze.
Try making pickled refrigerator pumpkin right before Thanksgiving. We use most of our squashes for just eating and making pies, breads, cookies and the favorite pumpkin roll.
But whatever you make with your squashes, try something new. Can some, freeze puree for winter soups and breads. Becca and I are going to try a large variety for baking this winter. We hope you do the same.
April Reese is a certified master food preserver through the University of California, Davis. She has been canning and preserving food for more than 15 years. She can be reached at (530) 274-3871 at the A to Z Supply Garden Center or you can email her questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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