How to Can Squash

Two Methods:Canning Winter SquashCanning Pickled Summer Squash

Sometimes you find yourself with more squash on hand than you can eat, but you can capture the delicious flavor and health benefits of squashes by canning them. Follow these simple steps to can winter squash using the hot pack method with either a dial-gauge or weighted pressure canner. When pickling summer squash, you increase the acid, so a water-boiling canner is sufficient.


Canned Winter Squash

Servings: 9 pints

  • 10 pounds winter squash (pumpkin, acorn, butternut, etc.)
  • Water

Pickled Summer Squash

Servings: 4 pints

  • 10 cups sliced summer squash (zucchini, yellow, patty-pan, etc.)
  • 2 cups sliced onions
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper[1]

Method 1
Canning Winter Squash

  1. Image titled Can Squash Step 1
    Pick mature squash. The skin should be hard and mostly unblemished. If you wouldn't eat it fresh, you probably shouldn't can it.[2]
  2. Image titled Can Squash Step 2
    Wash the squash. Use a vegetable scrubber to thoroughly wash the skins in warm water.[3]
  3. Image titled Can Squash Step 3
    Peel the squash. Use a very sharp knife or vegetable peeler to remove the skin.[4]
    • If you are having trouble peeling the squash, try poking holes in the skin and microwaving it for a few minutes. A good-sized butternut squash takes 3 to 4 minutes. You should have an easier time removing the peel after microwaving them.[5]
  4. Image titled Can Squash Step 4
    Chop up the squash. With a very sharp knife, cube the squash. You should aim for 1-inch cubes.[6]
    • You shouldn't mash the squash before canning. Experts have not decided on safe processing times for canning mashed or pureed squash.[7]
  5. Image titled Can Squash Step 5
    Clean 9 glass pint canning jars and metal lids with soap and hot water. Keep the jars and lids hot until they are ready to be filled.[8]
    • You can keep your jars hot by submerging them in hot water. You can also leave them in the dishwasher after washing them there.[9]
    • Because the final product will be processed for 10 minutes in a pressure canner, you don't need to sterilize the jars before filling.[10]
  6. Image titled Can Squash Step 6
    Bring a pot of water to boil. Use enough water to cover the squash, but don't add the squash yet. Once the water boils, add the squash. Leave it in the hot water for 2 minutes.[11]
  7. Image titled Can Squash Step 7
    Ladle the squash into the jars. Use the liquid to pour over the squash. Leave an inch or less at the top.[12]
  8. Image titled Can Squash Step 8
    Clean off the rims of the jars with a clean cloth. Stir each jar gently to allow air bubbles to escape and cover with the metal lids. Screw on the ring of the mason jar.[13]
  9. Image titled Can Squash Step 9
    Fill the pressure canner with 3 quarts of hot water. Place the sealed jars on the rack in the pressure canner.[14]
    • Since squash is a low-acid food, use a pressure canner to prevent bacterial contamination.[15]
    • The steam needs to flow around the jars. Do not set the jars on the bottom of the canner. Instead, they should go on the canner's rack. Also, leave space around the jars.[16]
  10. Image titled Can Squash Step 10
    Heat the canner. Cover the canner. Heat up the canner so that it's boiling. Start your timer once you see steam rising, and let it go for 10 minutes. Don't close the vents during this 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, close the vents or set the weighted gauge on top. [17]
  11. Image titled Can Squash Step 11
    Process jars in the pressure canner for 55 minutes. Adjust the pressure based on your altitude (see guide below).[18] Start timing when the right pressure is reached. Check the gauge frequently to ensure the pressure remains constant.
    • For dial gauge canners, set pressure to 11 PSI (75.8 kPa) for altitudes of 0 to 2000 feet (0 to 610 m), 12 PSI (82.7 kPa) for altitudes of 2001 to 4000 feet (610 to 1220 m), 13 PSI (89.6 kPa) for altitudes of 4001 to 6000 feet (1220 to 1830 m), and 14 PSI (96.5 kPa) for 6001 to 8000 feet (1830 to 2440 m).[19]
    • For weighted gauge canners set pressure to 10 PSI (68.95 kPa) for altitudes of 0 to 1000 feet (0 to 305 m) and 15 PSI (103.4 kPa) for altitudes above 1,000 feet (304.8 m).[20]
  12. Image titled Can Squash Step 12
    Stop the heat. Allow the pressure to return to 0 PSI (0 kPa). When it reaches, zero, take the weights off or open the vent. Leave it alone for two minutes, then take off the lid. Watch out for the steam.[21]
  13. Image titled Can Squash Step 13
    Take out the jars. Use a jar lifter to take out the jars. Don't place them on a cold kitchen counter, which could crack the glass. Instead, use a wooden board or lay down a towel for them. Leave a little space between jars for air flow.[22]
  14. Image titled Can Squash Step 14
    Let them cool. Make sure you picked an area that isn't drafty.[23]
    • Listen for a small “ping” sound indicating that the seal of the jar lids has been sucked down, and the jars are properly sealed. You can also press the top. You shouldn't be able to press it down farther if it is properly sealed.
  15. Image titled Can Squash Step 15
    Label the jars with the ingredients and the date. Store them in a cool, dark, and dry location.[24]

Method 2
Canning Pickled Summer Squash

  1. Image titled Can Squash Step 16
    Sterilize 4 pint-sized canning jars. Place the jars in a boiling-water canner. They should be on the top rack. Add water until it reaches at least an inch above the jar. Boil the jars for 10 minutes. Remove one by one, drain, and use.[25]
    • The USDA also does not recommend canning summer squash without any additions due to safety concerns; instead, you should freeze the squash or pickle it if you plan to can it.[26]
  2. Image titled Can Squash Step 17
    Pick a large pot. The pot should be large enough to hold all the vegetables at once. You can also use a large bowl for this step.[27]
    • Do not add water to the pot.
  3. Image titled Can Squash Step 18
    Begin with a single layer of squash and onions. Add a light layer of salt. Create another layer of squash and onions, and add more salt. Continue until all the vegetables are used up.[28]
  4. Image titled Can Squash Step 19
    Leave it for an hour. You are drawing out some of the water in the vegetables. Pour off the water drained from the vegetables.[29]
  5. Image titled Can Squash Step 20
    Choose a stainless steel or ceramic pot. You want a pot that does not react with acidic foods, such as stainless steel or ceramic. For instance, copper and aluminum react, so do not use one of those.[30]
  6. Image titled Can Squash Step 21
    Add all the ingredients except the squash and onions to the pot. Set the heat on high. When it boils, throw in the squash and onions. Let it boil again.[31]
  7. Image titled Can Squash Step 22
    Spoon the vegetables into the jars. Cover the vegetables with the liquid from the pot. The liquid should be 1/2 an inch or closer to the rim.[32]
  8. Image titled Can Squash Step 23
    Use a clean rag or paper towel to wipe the rims. Put the lids on the jars.[33]
  9. Image titled Can Squash Step 24
    Can the jars. Boil them in a water-canner. Leave them in the water for 10 minutes.[34]
  10. Image titled Can Squash Step 25
    Check to make sure the jars sealed. The lid should pop into place. If they don't, keep them in the refrigerator instead. You should eat the refrigerated pickles within 2 weeks.[35]
  11. Image titled Can Squash Step 26
    Place the cans on the shelf. For all the cans that sealed, you can set them on the shelf.[36]


  • Visit your local farmer’s market to find a variety of squashes, or join a local co-op.
  • Have the pressure gauge on your canner regularly checked to ensure the reading is accurate.


  • If the squash smells sour or off in any way when you open the jars, discard immediately.

Things You’ll Need

  • Pressure canner
  • 9 pint-sized glass mason jars
  • Canning lids with rings
  • Jar lifter
  • Kitchen towels
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife
  • Large pot
  • Large bowls

Sources and Citations


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Article Info

Categories: Food Preservation Techniques