Canning Squash or Pumpkin

I tried canning winter squash for the first time this week. I’m pretty pleased with the results.

I followed the standard canned squash recipe, which explicitly calls for cubed, not pureed, squash.  I’m not sure why this is safer; I assume squash or pumpkin puree is too thick to distribute the heat through the jar.  And, of course, you need to pressure can it, since squash is a low-acid food.

The procedure was very simple: cut squash into 1″ cubes*. Bring some water to a boil (I filled an 8 quart pot about half full) and throw in the squash. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Pack into hot jars; cover with the cooking liquid; cap and process. I did pints, which took 55 minutes at 11 lb pressure.

The result was pretty good.I was making pumpkin waffles, so I drained the liquid out of the jar, then just stuck a fork in the jar and stirred vigorously. That effectively pureed it in the jar.  What I had was roughly equivalent of a store-bought can of pureed pumpkin, so it made it a 1-to-1 substitution in my recipe. Easy.

I might add some sweetener to the water (maple syrup? honey?) next time, because the water drew off some of the sweetness of the squash. However, the recipe I was using had added sweetener, so I didn’t really notice. And honestly, I like the texture of baked squash better for eating as a side dish, so I will probably eat the canned stuff exclusively as puree in recipes.

Picture of the pantry, Sept. 2011
Squash is dead center, between the pizza sauce and the hominy. Looks like peaches!

This is a nice trick to have up my sleeve, because my squash this year are so huge.  This lets me harvest a squash, bake some of it, and store the rest of it before it goes bad…without taking up any freezer space.  I have frozen baked, mashed squash before, and it tastes a little better (more concentrated sweet pumpkin flavor), but I literally cannot put one more thing in the freezer right now! It’s also nice that I don’t have to thaw the squash before using it.

Squash in progress
Stages of squash cutting. The short sticks, when cubed, filled 7 pint jars. I cooked the long sticks separately, and gave away the other 3/4 of the squash.

* Cutting the 27 lb pink banana squash into cubes was a monumental task. It took an hour and raised a blister on the joint at the base of my index finger. What I learned: cut the squash into shorter “logs” so no section is longer than your knife blade (in this case, 4 cylinders). Then stand a section up on the cut surface and cut from top to bottom so you have 2 half-cylinders. Take the seeds out by scraping with a sturdy spoon. Keep cutting sections in half until you have “sticks” about an inch wide on the skin edge. Then, peel, preferably with a peeler whose blade is perpendicular to the handle, like this. Peeling last makes the squash a little less slippery and easier to handle.  Finally, cut the sticks into 1″ cubes. Of course, they won’t be 1″ all around, because the sticks are trapezoidal in cross-section, but close enough.

Published by Emily

I'm an instructional designer and gardener based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Free moments find me in my garden or the forest, hugging trees and all that jazz.

6 thoughts on “Canning Squash or Pumpkin

  1. I baked my squash (butternut) in the oven at 350 until the skin softened and then cut up. I beleive a whole lot easier to peel that way. Going to cut up and can now. Just a thought.

    1. I don’t see why not, though I don’t know if it will “string” properly after canning. The canned winter squash pretty much purees on contact.

      1. you can not do spagetti squash. chunk and freeze. If you can it it does not get hot enough in the middle because it is too dense.

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