Preserving Summer Squash

July 18, 2022

Christine J. Patrick, County Extension Agent – EFNEP

Are you looking for ways to preserve the yellow or zucchini squash that grows so abundantly in summer gardens in South Carolina? The best options are to either freeze or pickle summer squash. The USDA has withdrawn recommendations for canning summer squash, including zucchini, that appeared in previous editions of So Easy to Preserve or USDA bulletins. The reason for withdrawal is uncertainty about the determination of adequate processing times. Squash are low-acid vegetables; they require pressure canning for a known period to destroy the bacteria that cause botulism. Documentation for the previous processing times cannot be found, and available reports do not support the aging process. Attempts to reproduce the old method did not ensure adequate heating and safety. Slices or cubes of cooked summer squash will get quite soft and packed tightly into the jars. The amount of squash filled into a jar will affect the heating pattern in that jar and may result in inadequate processing and an unsafe product. (Reference:

Summer squash is good for you. It is low in calories, and wide varieties provide vitamin C, potassium, and beta carotene if the skin is eaten. Preserve summer squash by freezing, pickle them for canning or dry them.

Freezing Summer Squash: Choose young squash with tender skins. Wash and cut into ½-inch slices—Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes; cool in ice water for at least 3 minutes. 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 a single layer on a cookie sheet, and freeze 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 for 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.

Summer Chili

¾ lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup diced carrots

¾ cup chopped green bell pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced (or ½ tsp. garlic powder)

1 28 oz. can tomatoes (or 3½ cups fresh tomatoes, chopped)

1 16 oz. can chili or kidney beans, drained (or 2 cups, cooked from scratch)

2 cups water

1½ Tbsps. Chili powder

¾ tsp. Dried oregano

½ tsp. salt, if desired

2 cups diced yellow or zucchini squash


Cook ground beef or ground turkey in a large pot over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain off fat. Add onions, carrots, green bell peppers, and garlic. Cover and cook over low heat until onion is softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans, water, chili powder, oregano, and salt. Cook uncovered until chili comes to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add squash and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes longer. Serves 8, Calories: 210 per serving, fat: 4 grams per serving.

(Source: University of Illinois Extension fact sheet; initially developed by Michigan State University Extension). For more information about preserving summer squash, visit the Clemson University Home and Garden Information Center on the web at

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