In late October we canned up the acorn squash from our garden. It was a good harvest, but not our best. We ended up with around 15 acorn squash and canned up 10 of those.
Like pumpkin, there are some safety concerns with canning acorn squash (or any winter squash). You need to only can it in smallish (1" or so) chunks and it cannot be safely canned if it's pureed. You also need to can it using a pressure canner. Canning squash in a water bath canner is not safe. For more background information about safely canning winter squash, see my post about canning pumpkin.
Follow along now and see how we can up acorn squash.
The very first step (which I did not photograph) is to carefully clean your squash. Clean produce is important as a first line defense against bacteria and toxins in your final product.
We use a vegetable brush and running water to clean off our squash.
Next we sliced the squash. We found that slicing them in half, removing the seeds, and then slicing along the ridges was the easiest method.
Slicing along the ridges allowed us to more easily peel the squash.
After peeling we then sliced the squash into chunks that were around 1" in size.
This time we actually prepared the squash one night and I canned it up another day. I do a lot of my canning this way. If I can prep the produce in one chunk of time, then the actual canning can be done fairly quickly another time. We made sure to cover the squash well and refrigerated it until I was able to can it.
On the day I was ready to can, I began by taking the acorn squash out of the refrigerator and put it in a large stockpot. I covered it with water by about 1-2" inches. I set it on the stovetop and turned the burner on high. While the squash was warming up I prepared the rest of my equipment. The squash ultimately warmed up and was boiled for two minutes.
Next I filled clean quart jars with warm water and put them in the pressure canner filled with about 1.5" of water. Warming the jars helps prevent cracking later when you fill the jars with your hot food mixture. Check your pressure canner manual to see how much water you need to fill it with. Most have a mark on the inside indicating the fill line.
I turned the heat on the burner up to high.
Next I put a small saucepan full of water on a burner and turned the heat on low. Inside I placed the canning jar lids. I stacked them with alternating sides so the lids are easier to remove. The lids need to be warmed so that they'll form a better seal on the jars.
Then I assembled my canning tools. For this job I used canning jar tongs, a magnetic lid lifter, a ladle, a slotted spoon, a canning jar funnel, a clean damp dishcloth, and canning jar rings.
When the squash had boiled for two minutes I was ready to start filling the jars. I used the canning jar tongs to remove a jar from the canner and emptied the water into the sink. Then I put the canning funnel in the jar and used the slotted spoon to carefully fill it with the hot squash. I packed the jar loosely and filled it to about 1.5" of the top of the jar.
Then I used the ladle to fill the jar with hot liquid from the stockpot full of squash and water. Again, I filled to about 1.5" of the top of the jar.
Then I removed the canning funnel from the jar. I used the magnetic lid lifter to lift one of the lids from the saucepan and centered it on the top of the jar. I then placed a ring on it and tightened the lid down with the ring.
Then I used the canning jar tongs to lift the jar back into the canner. I repeated all of the previous steps until all of the squash was in jars and the jars were in pressure canners. For this batch I ended up using both of our pressure canners. Then I fastened the lids on the canners and made sure the burners were turned up to high.
The next step was venting the canners. This is a necessary safety step. Check your pressure canner manual to see how long your canner needs to vent. One of ours vents for 7 minutes and other vents for 9 minutes.
After venting I put the weights on the canners and waited for the canners to come up to pressure. For acorn squash at our altitude using weighted pressure canners we needed 10 pounds of pressure. Gauge canners (without weights) usually need to be at 11 pounds of pressure when canning winter squash. For our altitude the squash in quart jars needed to be processed for 90 minutes.
We took advantage of that time to do a bit of schoolwork in the kitchen. It's important that you not abandon your pressure canners during processing. You need to monitor the pressure and adjust the heat on your burner when necessary to maintain the correct pressure in your canners.
After 90 minutes of processing I turned the heat off on the burners. Then I waited for the gauges to return to zero. Then I waited an additional 5 minutes before removing the lids. Again, this is a safety step. In case the gauge isn't reading accurately the extra five minutes ensures that there is no pressure inside the canner when you remove the lid.
Next I used the canning jar tongs to carefully remove the jars from the canners. We cooled them on sheets of cardboard set on our hoosier countertop.
This batch yielded 10 quarts of canned acorn squash.
After the jars cooled completely I removed the rings, wiped down the jars, and marked them with the contents and date. Then I stored them in a cool dark place until ready to use.
This post is included in the Raising Homemakers Homemaking Link-up.
- A 40 something mama meandering through life with an eclectic 21 year old boy-man (the boy), an 8 year old girl (big girl) who is a ball of lightening, and a 4 year old girl (baby girl) who brightens our lives with her smiles. I'm grounded by my 40 something husband and partner (the hubster) whose quirky mannerisms brighten my days.
I've been a single mama, married mama, divorced mama, career mama, SAHM, and WAHM. There was a short time of my life when I wasn't a mama, but that was a LONG time ago!
I hold an AA, BS, and MA and most say I'm wasting them by devoting my intellectual capabilities and energy in the nurture of the wee ones that I've been entrusted to raise, but there is nothing else I'd rather be doing these days. :)
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