Last week I shared my harvest of monster squash with you. This week I will share with you how I preserved that harvest. I already had a freezer shelf full of squash and zukes from the summer, so I decided to use this 'bonus' harvest to try some new stuff.
Some of the harvest was unuseable (probably edible, not tasty). The larger ones were very seedy and in some cases the seeds had even hardened. We sent those to the compost. We decided that the smaller large ones were useable. They were not seedy, but were more solid that properly harvested squash. They had less water - so to speak. We shredded those.
We decided that we would try zucchini relish and zucchini pickles. This required canning; something that we have very limited experience at. I prefer freezing to canning only because I don't like the idea of adding all that salt and/or sugar to my food. But unless I plan on buying another freezer or two, I'll have to give in on this (at least a little).
My mom bought us a gift certificate for canning supplies; we got that stuff this week (on clearance!). We didn't buy the water bather because its basically a big stock pot. We already have one of those that we use for gumbo or family gatherings. I used the steamer that came with that pan to set the jars on. I used a slightly smaller (but still large) stock pot to heat the jars.
A little less than an hour later, we had 3 jars of zucchini relish waiting for their labels and a pan of zucchini pickles brewing. I notice that my relish is slightly darker than others; I think this is because I used raw organic sugar which is brown and not white like refined sugar. Canning was actually fun and I have space in the pantry for cans (can't say the same for my freezer). I'll look on craigslist to up my canning supply, but in the meantime, I need to find some low sodium / low sugar canning recipes.
In the end, I harvested a useable 11 pounds of zucchini and 10 pounds of squash (that I did not give away). I probably gave away another 7 pounds of useable squash. I think this is pretty good for an end-of-season two-week crop with no gardener around to help things along.
My fall garden is just starting to ramp up. It is just now getting cool enough for the seedlings to be happy. I don't expect a harvest from it for maybe 2-3 more weeks. I did leave one lone eggplant from the summer garden because it had 5 eggplants on it. I harvested one this weekend and another will be ready in a few days. As an experiment, I am going to see how long I can keep the eggplant alive using plastic sheeting. More about my fall garden later this week.
Check out more harvest from across the world over at Daphne's Dandelions Harvest Monday.