Summer squash is a great garden crop that can give you a big harvest in a small space and short period of time. Learn all the ways you can preserve summer squash to save your harvest for winter use!
Just one zucchini or summer squash plant can give you more squash than you know what to do with.
So when you have eaten your fill, your counter is full, and your neighbor’s don’t want any more zucchini, what can you do?
Luckily summer squash is super easy to preserve and there are a few different ways you can do it- meaning there’s a way that will work for almost every ability level and taste.
Here’s how to preserve summer squash– including 6 different ways to choose from!
(Are you a beginning gardener? Here’s how to grow squash plus some of the best types of summer squash to grow. )
What is Summer Squash?
First off, let’s talk about squash and the differences between summer squash and winter squash.
Summer squash is planted in the spring and can be planted throughout the summer for a continuous harvest. The plants are more compact and take up less room than winter squash.
Summer squash varieties include yellow squash, crookneck, zucchini, bush marrow, patty pan, and zephyr squash. Summer squash has a higher water content and a shorter shelf life than winter squash, which means you need to preserve it if you want to enjoy it after the garden is finished for the season.
When talking about preserving squash in this article, I am talking about SUMMER squash, not winter squashes such as butternut, hubbard, or pumpkins. (but here’s how to preserve winter squash!)
6 Different Ways to Preserve Summer Squash
✅ Ready to take control of your food source and preserve more? Check out my Food Preservation Planner to help you plan and preserve more food this year!
Before jumping in to how to preserve summer squash, let me just mention that summer squash tends to get rather mushy no matter how you preserve it. So when you are using canned or frozen squash, chances are it will just fall apart in whatever meal you are using it in.
It’s still full of nutrition and taste, but you won’t be able to saute zucchini from frozen quite like you can fresh!
Freezing Summer Squash
My favorite way of preserving summer squash is to freeze it. To me, freezing is the simplest method and it retains more of the taste that I want in my squash.
I also prefer to freeze my squash without blanching. Blanching supposedly stops the enzymes that can degrade your squash over time, but I haven’t really noticed a difference in taste and blanching makes the squash even more mushy when defrosted.
I simply slice, grate, or dice my squash and stick it in a freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible and put it in the freezer. Try to use it in about a year.
Here’s how I do frozen zucchini- for easy measured portions.
Pressure Canning Squash
If you want to can squash, you will need to use a pressure canner. It can’t be canned on their own using a water bath canner.
Pressure canning can seem a little scary if you aren’t used to it, but it’s really not that hard! You can pick up a copy of the Quick Start Guide to Pressure Canning if you need help getting started.
Usually you will either can sliced or diced summer squash. Here’s a couple tutorials to get you started:
Water Bath Canning Squash
If you don’t own a pressure canner, or you just aren’t comfortable pressure canning, there are someways to preserve summer squash using a water bath canner. While, it can’t be canned PLAIN in a water bath, if you add in some acids, you can safely can summer squash using this method.
This means either adding in something like vinegar- and pickling. Or adding in sugar.
For example, you can make my cucumber relish recipe and exchange zucchini or other summer squash in for the cucumbers.
Here are some other ways to preserve summer squash using a water bath canner:
- Make Zucchini Mock Pineapple (cheap, zucchini based alternative to crushed pineapple!)
- Sweet and Sour Zucchini Pickles
- Zucchini Marmalade
Dehydrating is another great option for preserving your summer squash. I have an Excalibur 9 Tray Food Dehydrator that I LOVE and use all summer long, but you can also check out my Dehydrator Buying Guide for other options.
To dehydrate squash you can either slice it or dice it- you don’t have to peel it first.
Dehydrate at 125F until leathery and dry. This may take between 10-14 hours depending on thickness and humidity.
One of my favorite ways of dehydrating summer squash is sliced thin, seasoned, and dried into chips. I use the same method as described in my Cucumber Chips article.
We also love to make dried Zucchini Pineapple Candy. It’s super easy and a healthy, dessert-like treat!
You can even dry your squash and grind it into a powder to add to smoothies, soups, sauces, or baked goods.
Freeze Drying Squash
Now, not everyone has a freeze dryer, but it’s still a great option for preserving summer squash!
Freeze drying allows you to preserve squash that retains most of its nutritional value and lasts much longer than any other preservation method- up to 25 years in some cases.
You can even make freeze dried squash in slices, grated, or chunks and use it just as you would other preserved squash- in baked goods, soups, stews, smoothies, and more.
HarvestRight makes a line of Home Freeze Dryers that work quite well for preserving all kinds of foods. Here’s their guide on Freeze Drying Zucchini to check out more about it.
I am not a huge fermented foods fan, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a super healthy way of preserving your fresh homegrown produce!
You can preserve zucchini and other summer squash by fermenting too! They will turn out similarly to the pickled squash we’ve already talked about.
Here are a couple fermented squash recipes to try out:
- Fermented Baby Zucchini Pickles
- Lacto Fermented Summer Squash and Zucchini
- Raw Zucchini Cucumber Fermented Pickles
More Preservation Guides:
6 Ways to Preserve Strawberries
6 Ways to Preserve Green Beans
I am interested in methods of preserving zuchinis/ pumpkins.
how can you preserve yellow squash for frying later or is this possible?
I’ve always cut and battered it then freeze layers with parchment paper in between.
No matter how you preserve it, it gets mushy. But when I froze mine I managed to fry it. It turns out more like okra (all clumped kinda together) than pretty squash patties though.
I’ve never had that issue. I slice and freeze it. Then once thawed, I dip it in flour, egg wash, and panko. Fry it in about an inch of oil. Turns out perfectly crisp and wonderful every time. Not mushy in the least.
I like to spiralize my zucchini or crookneck, let it sit out on a pan or on a counter to dry overnight, then vaporlock it in bags and freeze. I also cut 1/4″ medallions, lay them in single layers on freezer paper, let them dry a few hours, then freeze. Once frozen, I also vaporlock them in bags. When cooking, I put a little oil in the pan, get it hot, then cook the frozen noodles, or slices. I find letting them dry a bit reduces the chances of mushiness!