SummerSquash-ShellyBarnes 071311

Shelly Barnes • Updated Jul 29, 2013 at 9:16 AM

Are you looking for ways to preserve the yellow or zucchini summer squash that grows so abundantly in your garden?

The best options are to either freeze or pickle summer squash. Due to the lack of tested recipes, the canning of summer squash without the addition of vinegar (for pickling) is no longer recommended. When summer squash is cooked it gets soft and packs tightly into jars, affecting the heating pattern needed to destroy the bacteria that cause botulism.

Documentation is not available to give the processing times for this low-acid vegetable, which is why canning summer squash is no longer recommended.

However, freezing is a good, simple option. It is important to blanch squash before putting it in the freezer in order to stop the deterioration in color, flavor and nutrients that occurs because of the natural enzyme activity.

Follow these simple instructions adapted from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Choose young squash with tender skin. Wash and cut in ½-inch slices. Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes; cool in ice water. Drain and package into freezer bags or freezer containers, leaving ½-inch headspace.

For frying: Follow the above instructions, but before packaging, dredge in flour or cornmeal, spread in single layer on cookie sheet and freeze just until firm. Package quickly into freezer bags or containers, leaving ½-inch headspace.

Grated zucchini (for baking): Choose young tender zucchini. Wash and grate. Steam blanch in small quantities 1 to 2 minutes until translucent. Pack in measured amounts into containers, leaving ½-inch headspace. Cool by placing the containers in ice water. Seal and freeze. If watery when thawed, discard the liquid before using the zucchini.

Try this fresh recipe adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatte....

Skillet Zucchini with Chopped Tomatoes

1 tsp whipped light butter (or vegetable oil)

1 cup chopped onion

4 small (6 inch) zucchini, thinly sliced

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp dried basil or 1 tablespoon shredded fresh basil leaves

Fresh ground pepper

In a large nonstick skillet, melt margarine over medium heat; add onions and cook, stirring until softened. Add zucchini and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and basil and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until zucchini is tender-crisp. Season to taste with pepper.

Zucchini squash is one of the most popular summer squashes. It offers a variety in eating from snacks to desserts. For preparation ideas try one of the following...

Serve sliced along with other vegetables and low fat dip for an appetizer or snack.

Slice into a tossed vegetable salad.

Marinate with other vegetables in a low fat Italian dressing for a side salad.

Add to any stir-fry vegetable or main dish.

Slice, steam and sprinkle with a small amount of Parmesan cheese and seasonings.

Shred into quick bread or muffins.

Add shredded squash, along with shredded carrots, into meatloaf for added nutritional value.

If you have food preservation questions you would like addressed in “News You CAN Use,” contact your local FCS Extension Agent, Shelly Barnes at 444-9584 or sbarnes@utk.edu. Barnes looks forward to your calls and emails.

Also, if you would like to learn more about food preservation, Barnes will be offering a few more Canning College classes this summer in partnership with Wilson Farmers Co-op.  To find out more information about these and other educational opportunities, please contact Barnes at the University of Tennessee Extension office for more information or contact Renee’ Tanner at Wilson Farmers Co-op at 444-5212.

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