Canning Squash / Is it Possible?

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The good news is, Yes! Canning Squash is possible with the right canning methods.  How to can both summer and winter squash.  From zucchini to pumpkins, learn safe canning methods and which types of squash are best suited for it.

Tightening screw bands on jars of pumpkin.

Can squash be canned?

Absolutely! Squash can be canned but there are certain considerations.  Squash is a low acid food which means it must be processed in a pressure canner. Because of the ph levels, botulism is a concern and pressure canning is the only way to mitigate that risk.

Good news! 

There are times when a water bath can be used to process squash.  Summer squash specifically can be pickled which does not require a pressure canner. (see list of recipes at the bottom of this page)

It’s not hard!  Just an extra step is all it takes.  

Squash is a term used for two distinct types.  

Canning winter squash like pumpkin or butternut squash.  

These squashes are a firm fruit that matures in late autumn and store well.  They have a hard rind and the flesh is sturdier than summer squash.  Winter Squash can be canned in cubes.  It should not be puréed for canning.  

Canning summer squash like zucchini or yellow crookneck squash.  

Skip to the list of recipes for canning squash. Recipes for both summer and winter squash.

How to Can Squash Varieties

  • Winter squash like pumpkin or butter nut are appropriate for canning plain in 1-inch cubes.  It can be canned in either quart or pint jars. 
  • Summer squash like zucchini or yellow squash are appropriate for pickling or making into relish. Bread and Butter pickles can be made with zucchini or yellow squash slices.
  • Summer squash should not be canned plain unless they are in a recipe specifically tested.  For example I’ve got a tested method for canning zucchini in a tomato based sauce. 
  • It is safe to substitute zucchini or summer squash for cucumbers in a tested relish recipe. The flavor or texture might be slightly different.

Why can’t we can plain summer squash or zucchini?

There used to be processes available for canning zucchini and summer squash. However, some of the documentation for that testing is gone.  The time of processing is apparently missing and there is some uncertainty as to the process that was being used. It was retested and the results were not working as expected.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation reports that when they tried to reproduce the process followed during testing, there was insufficient proof that it is working correctly.  Insufficient heating was an issue. And remember it is the appropriate heat that will prevent botulism poisoning.  

Another concern is that summer squash will become very soft during canning and may fill the jar very compactly.  This compaction affects the heat transfer in jars and may cause insufficient heating throughout the jar.  Thus botulism may be a concern.  

So, the decision was made to withdraw the plain canning recommendation.

Much to many peoples dismay!

Pickled Summer Squash 

But remember canning summer squash is acceptable for pickling and relish recipes. The vinegar and ingredients of these recipes creates the ph levels needed to safely water bath squash. 

I don’t recommend just substituting any vegetable for other vegetables in pickles or home canning. BUT substituting summer squash for cucumber in any tested relish recipe is safe according the the NCFHFP. 

Top view of a jar of sweet zucchini relish with an orange peeler.
Zucchini Relish

Why isn’t canning Pumpkin Puree ok?

The only testing that has been done for canning winter squash is for canning in cubes.  In fact it is reported that the original testing specifically states. “Caution: Do not mash or puree.” 

The reason is a puree can be very thick in the jar.  This texture will affect how the heat penetrates the food.  That heat must get to the very center of the jar to stop the bacteria that can cause botulism.  A puree may not be heated throughout to a high enough temperature.  

If you make pumpkin butter or any pureed squash, treat it as fresh food and put it in the fridge.  Or you can freeze it. Do not process it for shelf storage.  

What about Pickled Pumpkin? 

If summer squash can be pickled… the question follows – Can winter squash be pickled?  The only pickle recipes I know of for winter squash are refrigerator pickles.  They are not processed and stored on the shelf.  There are no pickled winter squash recipes that have been tested for processing and storage on the shelf.  

Canning Squash Recipes 

Here is a list of squash canning recipes included here on Simply Canning.

Pick One and Have Fun!

Canning Pumpkin & Winter Squash

Canning Pumpkin & Winter Squash should be done in pieces, not puree, for safety reasons. Here's how to safely can pumpkin at home, using your pressure canner.
How to Can Pumpkin or Winter Squash
A pint jar filled with canned pumpkin cubes.

Learn How to Can Butternut Squash

Step by step pressure canning instruction for butternut squash.
How to Can Butternut Squash
Pint jar of home canned butternut squash, sitting on a red checked towel with various canning tools in the background.

Canning Zucchini in Pineapple Juice – Faux Pineapple

Learn how to can zucchini pineapple. Canning zucchini in pineapple juice results in a surprisingly delicious faux pineapple. This is a water bath recipe.
Canning Pineapple Zucchini
Zucchini Pineapple top view of jar with bubble tool.

Zucchini Relish Recipe

This zucchini relish recipe makes about 5 pint jars or 10 half-pints. Both size jars are processed for the same amount of time.
Canning Zucchini Relish
Top view of a jar of sweet zucchini relish with an orange peeler.

Sweet Pickle Relish

I love this sweet pickle relish on a brat or homemade hamburgers. Add to potato or egg salads as well. A great summer food addition.
Substitute Summer Squash for this Pickle Relish
An open jar of green and red pickle relish with a spoonful of relish on the side.

Canning Zucchini in Tomato Sauce (Okra Too!)

Canning zucchini in tomato sauce is a great way to preserve the summer harvest. Learn how to can zucchini (or okra) to a tomato-based sauce. 
How to can Zucchini or Okra in Tomato Sauce
Three finished pint jars of zucchini in tomato sauce sitting on a deck railing.

Other Ways to Preserve Squash

Freezing Zucchini

Who doesn't have an overabundance of zucchini in the summertime? Freezing zucchini chopped, shredded, or cubed is a great way to save the harvest for winter! Here's how to freeze zucchini.
How to Freeze Zucchini
A large pile of green zucchini.

Dehydrating Zucchini

Dehydrating zucchini either in chips or pieces is a great way to preserve it. Dried zucchini instructions here!
How to Dry Zucchini
Putting dehydrated zucchini into a snap close jar.

Frequently Asked Questions  

Can Squash be home canned? 

Yes, squash can be canned at home.   Look for safe tested methods and you’ll have pickled squash, relish and home canned pumpkin for your pantry. 

Can you water bath can squash.?

Only zucchini pickles, and relishes can be processed in a water bath canner. 

Can you water bath butternut squash? 

No, Butternut squash is a winter squash and the only way to can it is in cubes in a pressure canner.

Can you freeze squash? 

Yes! Freezing squash is a perfect alternative if you don’t want to can it.

Sources 

  • https://nchfp.uga.edu/tips/fall/pumpkins.html
  • https://www.clemson.edu/extension/food/canning/canning-tips/26preserving-summer-squash.html

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Nora
Nora
9 months ago

Hi Sharon,
I love your website! Here’s my question: What is the shelf life of the Zucchini Pineapple Canning Recipe of yours? We have a small household and I can’t use it up in a week. Wondering if it would last as long as a pickled cucumber.
Thanks for reading this….I come back and check for your thoughts….

Karen
Karen
1 year ago

Hi Sharon! As always, good info! My question: What about Delicata squash? It’s considered a winter squash, but is a more delicate one. Can I pressure can it, or will it turn to mush? If it’s okay to can it, would it be okay to leave the rind on? Thanks!