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Ways to Preserve Summer Squash

If you have more than three or four summer squash plants in your garden, you are almost guaranteed to have more fresh summer squash than you can eat. Then comes the question of what to do with all that squash. Sure, you can give it away or sell it at a local farmer's market, but there comes a time when you either have to preserve it for later or throw it away.

So how do you preserve summer squashes? You don't want to can them as they will end up mush. That leaves you two options: drying or freezing.

Drying Summer Squash

Drying the squash makes it super simple to store. To dry the squash slice it into slices no thicker than 1/4 of an inch. Lay the squash in a single, even layer on the drying trays. The squash can touch but should never overlap.

Depending on the method you're using, electric dehydrator, oven or solar, the squash should be dry in 12 to 18 hours. Allow it to cool and store in heavy duty, zipper type freezer bags until needed. 

To rehydrate, soak in warm water for 15 to 30 minutes.

Freezing the Squash

Fill a large stockpot with sliced or cubed summer squash. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and then remove the pot from the heat. Drain the squash in a large colander and chill by running under cold water. Package in large freezer bags and freeze until needed.

You can also do this with a variety of summer squashes and other ingredients such as okra and tomatoes.  Do not drain the liquid after cooking for five minutes. Allow the squash mixture to cool and then package into freezer bags or containers. Use this as a veggie soup or a soup base later in the year.

An Exception to the Rule

Zucchini squash make excellent pickles. Use your favorite bread and butter pickle recipe or pick up one of those pre-made 'pickling' mixes from the store. Slice the zucchini into spears or 1/4 inch slices and pickle according to your recipe. Because they are boiling water bath processed, the zucchini pickles, while maybe not super crunchy, won't be mushy either.