Canning Zucchini

Canning zucchini at home is a popular search here on my kitchen blog.  I never thought about canning zucchini until last year when I ended up with a lot of zucchini and had to think about how to preserve all that food!

It’s been a year since I canned zucchini, tomatoes and squash along with a lot of other yummy veggies and fruits last year.  I was absolutely thrilled with the canning results.  I used the canned zucchini, tomatoes and squash all winter long to make yummy squash casseroles using our fresh farm eggs.  I made these casseroles with and without crust depending on how much time I had.  I found that even a simple pie crust recipe worked fine for a quick squash casserole with crust. 

I also froze a lot of shredded zucchini.  I still have frozen shredded zucchini!  I’ve been using it for making zucchini bread and zucchini muffins.  We love zucchini bread and we don’t even mind having it for breakfast on occasion. 

Here are a series of posts on how I preserved the bulk food I bought from the Amish auction and the market:

  • Buying Local Produce:  The Plow Boy Auction
  • Preserving Food:  Freezing Corn
  • Shredded Zucchini and Freezing Corn
  • Preserving Food for the Pantry:  Canning Peaches
  • Canning Squash, Zucchini and Tomatoes
  • Canning Peach Jam
  • Canning for the Home Pantry
  • Canning Garden Produce

    Summer is here and that means canning food from the garden!  Canning your own food isn’t very common these days.  It use to be a skill every homemaker knew.  I’ve had to gradually grow comfortable with canning.  It was a scary skill for me to learn. 

    I greatly enjoy canning food from the garden and from bulk produce I buy.  My garden is not producing much right now.  I’m getting lots of fresh herbs but nothing else yet.  It’s all baby stage right now and I can’t wait to start canning some of our garden produce. 

    If you haven’t read my posts about my canning adventures last year…check out this link:

    Preserving Food For Your Pantry

    Using Up Excess Squash and Zucchini

    With summer time here, squash and zucchini are abundant.  We’ve been eating a lot of squash and zucchini lately!  In addition to canning and freezing squash, here are some ways I have been using it up:

    1. Steamed:  Squash and zucchini are great vegetables to steam.  I add some crushed garlic and sliced onions and steam it tender.  These steamed vegetables are wonderful to pair up over rice as a great side dish. 
    2. Added to omelets:  Chopped onions, chopped tomatoes and peppers and chopped squash or shredded zucchini are great additions to add to omelets. 
    3. Fried:  Ok…so maybe not the healthiest of options, but we had a great time last week making fried okra, fried green tomatoes and fried squash.  For making the squash, I sliced them, coated them in egg and dipped in a flour, cornmeal, salt mixture.  I then fried them in my iron skillet.  They were delicious! 
    4. In the skillet:  I sauteed squash and zucchini this week with a little butter and had with our breakfast.  I made grits, sausage and the sauteed veggies for a yummy southern breakfast.  Sauteed vegetables are great additions to supper meals as well. 
    5. In casseroles:  We love squash casseroles!  For a 9 X 12 pyrex glass dish, I use 4 or 5 eggs, three large dollops of mayo and about 1 cup of milk.  I pour this over chopped tomatoes, onions and sliced squash in my 9×12 pyrex glass baking dish.  You can add chopped ham, sausage or hamburger or chopped up bacon.  You can also add shredded cheese.  I like to make sure my egg mixture completely coats the squash, so sometimes I whip up another egg with some milk and mayo and add it if the dry ingredients outweigh the wet.   I then bake it at 350 for about 25 minutes.  Check the middle to make sure the egg mixture is done. 

    I made two squash casseroles last week and added hamburger to the mix.  Here’s the picture before baking.  I also made two iron skillets full of corn bread to go along with the squash casseroles. 

    Canning for the Home Pantry

    This week has been a long week of focused food preserving around my house.  I still have lots more food to can and freeze, however, I ended the week with lots of frozen corn, lots of shredded zucchini, some peaches and was able to get a good start on my canning for the season. 

    I put my 5 year old to work today washing and cutting lots of zucchini, tomatoes and squash.  She did an amazing job!  I had the boys bring in a 5 gallon bucket so we could throw all the scraps into the bucket for them to take out later to the pigs.  It quickly got the scraps off the counter tops and out of our way. 

    We peeled the tomatoes.  Normally, I like to freeze the tomatoes whole and then take them out and put them in a large bowl of warm water.  The skin will come right off.  But I just peeled them with a peeler and a knife this time and then my 5 year old cut them up for me.  The fresh garden tomato smell filled the air and they tasted wonderful!

    These tomatoes were the $.15 cent a pound tomatoes I bought at the produce auction. 

    This time I lightly blanched the cut zucchini and squash and then added the chopped up tomatoes to a big bowl and stirred it up.  I was able to get more food per jar than the last batch that I raw packed. 

    I ended up with 7 quart jars and 9 pint jars of zucchini, tomatoes and squash.  I’m planning on using the zucchini, tomatoes and squash mixture for soup and adding to casseroles. 

    Here are the peaches, the dark peach jam and the zucchini mixture we canned up today. 

    My canning efforts are starting to multiply and it makes me smile.  It’s a lot of work taking garden fresh food and  canning it, but it is well worth the effort especially when you can look on your pantry shelves and see all the goodness God provided and being satisfied with the work you’ve done in preparing ahead of time.  It’s even more exciting getting to use your canned food in your pantry and provide meals for your family. 

    I plan on continuing the work to stock my pantry shelves next week.  Stay tuned for lots more food preservation adventures!!!

    Using a Garden to Cut Your Grocery Bill

    Gardening is definitely making a comeback.  Different sources speculate exactly why that is.

    • Mostly the recession.  Bad economic times are pricking that “survival” instinct and people are appreciating those little garden seeds once again.  It’s not hard to calculate the finances on a few seeds and what they can produce and that’s why more people are using a garden to cut the grocery bill!
    • Or it could be food safety, recalls and distrust of the large mega food system that has been in the news countless times over the past few years.  No one likes the fact that the spinach or peanut butter or (insert the latest recall) we buy in the grocery store may or may not be recalled the week after we buy it and consume it!
    • It may also be the resurgence of farmers markets and buying local food and the plain fact that people are getting tired of tasteless food!  You don’t have to have super keen taste buds to taste the difference in a garden fresh tomato and a tomato that was picked green, ripened artificially with gas and traveled over 1,500 miles to get to your plate.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of paying $1.50 for a red plastic, tasteless pepper or $2.99 a pound for smooshy, tasteless tomatoes.  How about $2.99 for a head of green leaf lettuce!

    I’ll be using a garden to cut my grocery bill this year and not only will I save a ton of money, but my family will reap the wonderful rewards of tasty, healthy, home grown foods without the grocery store price tag and without my food making the 1,500 miles of cross country travel.

    You don’t have to order fancy seeds from major seed companies.  My most successful lettuces last year came from a .99 cent seed package a friend gave me.  Without any particularly scientific method, I prepared a square patch of soil in the corner of my garden spot and sprinkled the entire packed over the dirt.  I lightly patted the soil and sprinkled a bit of soil and water over top.  A wonderful variety of tightly packed lettuces grew and grew and grew! I way out did the $2.99 price for one head of lettuce!

    I found an article of interest on the topic entitled, How Much Green Can Growing a Vegetable Garden Save You

    George Ball, chairman and CEO of seed giant Burpee, can rattle off the savings for dozens of homegrown crops. Green beans will generate $75 worth of crops for each $1 you spend on seeds, Mr. Ball calculates.

    Green beans certainly paid off for us last year.  I planted several rows of green beans which ended up yielding me all the fresh green beans I could use throughout the summer and into the fall.  My daughter and I learned how to pressure can green beans last year, so our start up costs were a bit more expensive:  buying a pressure canner and buying canning jars!  However, even with that extra cost, we were able to put away over 50 quarts of green beans.  Plus, we traded farm fresh eggs for more green beans that we ended up canning.

    Our tomatoes paid off big time as well.  I still have frozen tomatoes in my freezer waiting to be used.  We ate all the fresh tomatoes we could….and ohh boy, were they out of this world delicious!  I immensely enjoyed planting some rare heirloom varieties that gave us yellow tomatoes and beautiful yellow and red striped tomatoes!  We had enough tomatoes that I ended up feeding lots of them to the chickens and pigs as well.  Nothing went to waste and my few dollars spent on tomato seeds and plants was greatly multiplied a hundred times over!

    This year, we plan to plant more and since we already have our canning supplies and saved lots of  seeds from last years plantings, our costs this year are hardly pennies!

    Housewives in past generations were much more proficient at estimating the amount of food they needed to stock their pantry with.  Even though we canned lots of applesauce, fresh peaches, fresh pears, pear sauce, apple butter and peach jelly, now in February, our pantry stores in those items have be used up!  It was wonderful while it lasted!  This winter taught me some very valuable lessons about pantry stocking.  When you have a family of 10, your winter pantry supply has to be huge!  I’m anxiously waiting for spring and the food harvest seasons to kick into full swing!

    No matter where you live, you can grow something!  Gardening is wise investment of time and energy and can drastically cut your grocery bill and fill your pantry cupboards and freezer with all sorts of high quality, priceless food items that your family can enjoy through out the year!

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