Drowning in summer squash

Pleasant Hill, CA(Zone 9b)

In a fit of optimism, I planted five (yes, FIVE) summer squash plants this year: 2 "benning" (patty pan), 2 "Cube o' butter" (yellow zucchini looking), and 1 crookneck. This is for two people.

Live and learn. And then learn again because I forgot the first two times!

Anyway, I am now delivering squash to work and family every day, and it's only a matter of time until these people burn out on it. I have learned the joys of fried squash blossoms (that will head off a lot of produce at the pass!), etc.

Does anyone have any clever ideas for squash (I have all the ususals, like bread, soups, broiled with cheese, sauteed)...

Does anyone dry it? how? and is it worth it?
Pickled?

Any help would be very helpful!

-Patty

Cascade, VA(Zone 7a)

we have always canned our excess squash in glass mason jars, they keep SO long that way and wont need cold storage that way either. And yeah, they do make for great pickles also! Apart from battered and fried, and the occasional squash casserole, thats pretty much all we do with ours, but i myself will sometimes slice one up and eat it straight up raw.

Monte Vista, CO(Zone 4a)

Indigenous people used to slice the squash and slip them on a stick, leaving a little space between them, to dry them. Then you could use a bag sealer and have emergency food stored, in case of a natural disaster of some kind. I like sauteed squash for breakfast. Saute in a lightly buttered pan, and season. You could also bread them in seasoned flour, then egg, then seasoned cracker crumbs. The breaded ones can make bottoms for hors d'oeuvres, topping with sour cream and ranch or sour cream and onion dip, etc.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Oh, my... what a question! Last year I made (and froze) faux zucchini crab cakes made with my excess zucchini. They were a BIG hit; I should have made more! I sautéed them before freezing, and they were much tastier after freezing, esp. with a squeeze of fresh lemon. (recipe from the internet).

I also made and froze several squash quiches using a variety of quiche recipes. They were great to thaw for a meal when I didn't want to cook. HOWEVER, if I make and freeze quiche again this year, I will make crustless quiche. The crust got really soggy.

I dried both some zukes and lemon squash in slices, for potential use in soups (and some for my 'survival' stash), but didn't get around to trying them yet.

This message was edited Jun 24, 2013 1:44 PM

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Can you make the quiche filling and freeze, then thaw and bake in the fresh pie crust?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I don't see why not... except I'd rather freeze a cooked filling because of using fresh eggs, and sometimes bacon like in Quiche Lorraine.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Oh, I see. Thanks!

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Try leaving one squash on the vine to turn into an over-ripe monster. That might slow down production. Then focus on picking small fruit.
My mom used to grab odds & ends from the garden, chop them up, then either give them a quick sauté with eggs or a quick blanch/boil in a can of diced stewed tomatoes. We had this as a side dish almost every night. We called it squash goulash because it usually had squash in it, but it was a little different every time.

My sister made bread-&-butter pickles out of two colors of squash, they were attractive and tasty, too. I substituted squash in my Harvard beets recipe, it gives you that pickled taste without having to go through the whole pickling process.

My sister says that every time she uses her food dryer, her electric bill spikes. I don't Know if they are all electricity hogs, but you might want to monitor that.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I haven't had squash, let alone an excess, for a couple of years due to squash bugs, but I used to love to take the big ones, split them lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, bake for a bit in the oven, and then stuff each half with either a vegetarian mixture of chopped veggies, breadcrumbs and grated cheese or with meat and veggies, especially ground lamb. We'd have one half for dinner for the two of us and I'd freeze the other half for another time.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

My goodness, I'm trying to get to the point where one half of anything is enough, LOL!

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

These are BIG zucchinis, GG! And after you stuff them full of chopped veggies and pine nuts and bread crumbs and meat and grated cheese they're very filling.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, LOL!

New Orleans, LA(Zone 9b)

A few ideas:

Pick them small and grill with olive oil and thyme
Fritters: shred, leave for an hour, squeeze out the water, mix with egg & bread crumbs, season, fry into dollar pancake size
Ratatouille or caponata: tomatoes, eggplant, zukes - tons of great recipes online
Squash blossoms in fettuccine carbonara
Layered as lasagne in a casserole, awesome with mushrooms and lots of ricotta/mozzarella
Zucchini bread - like banana bread, but it'll need more liquid/fats

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, Nola!

Carmel, IN(Zone 5b)

Or you can just send the extra to me.....my zucchini plants are way behind schedule due to our cold/rainy spring.

Zucchini bread and fritters both freeze really well.


Too many squash is a good problem to have :)

Linda

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

What a way to go ('drowning in summer squash'), possibly my all time favorite food! I was going to suggest sending them to your east coast 'friends', but I see that Linda has beat me to that one.

Seriously though, when you have more than you need and/or can use, I very much like the idea of handing them out to family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and anyone else who would like them. Is there a Weight Watcher's meeting near you? If you were to show up in the meeting area with a basket of free squash, I'll bet you would be incredibly popular. I actually did this once with a variety of excess garden produce (I had an overabundance of Japanese eggplant that summer), and was all but mobbed, but it is a fond memory, since it was clear the recipients were incredibly happy (not to mention surprised). Homes that care for the elderly (not sure the correct term) might also like to receive some fresh veggies, as might children's homes and community pantries (that feed the homeless).

If I were trying to keep lots of squash for later consumption, I would slice a bunch crosswise & cook in a large skillet or dutch oven to 'reduce' them by cooking off the water. A pot overflowing with squash will cook down to 1/4 or less the original volume, thus taking up much less space. I would pack this condensed form into freezer bags and stack flat in the freezer. (You might also like to freeze some sliced, blanched squash, but this condensed method will allow you to store the max qty in the least space.)

Processed in this manner, the squash can be used in a variety of recipes next winter with no observable loss of flavor or texture. It can be used in squash casseroles and soups. One of my favorite squash soup recipes is healthy, easy to make, and does not require exacting quantities. It's made of mostly yellow, summer squash with just one or two zucchini's (optional) for color contrast, a carrot or two, some chopped onion, garlic, (chives and parsley if you have them), and chicken broth or bullion. Cook veggies until soft. Then pulse in batches in the food processor or blender. Process some smooth, some to about the texture of slaw or finely chopped nuts (you should see lots of small, colorful bits), and a small amount 'chunky'. Combine for a tasty and colorful soup. Add salt, pepper, and other seasonings as desired. (The precooked frozen squash will need little to no processing for this soup.)

In my area, there is a nameless, regional squash dish that I love. It's a southern thing, so you may or may not care for it, but as the condensed, frozen squash is tailor made for this recipe, I'll offer it for consideration. Basically, you cook the water out of a pot or skillet of sliced yellow squash to which you've added 1 sliced or chopped onion, garlic, green onion (white & green parts included), salt, and black pepper. In the south, we usually also add a little finely chopped (cooked) bacon or smoked ham to add that smoked flavor, but you can also add a pat of butter or margarine or chicken bullion or omit this step entirely if you prefer a fat-free, healthier version. Cook covered on low at 1st until water from squash fills pan. Be very careful not to scorch during this step. The idea is to coax the water out w/o adding any extra water. Once you see lots of water in the pan, turn up to medium or until squash is simmering well. When tender, uncover and cook for a while on medium to med high to cook off excess fluid. Stir periodically. When almost all of the water has cooked off, turn down to low and continue cooking. Mash with potato ricer. Squash should now be thick like mashed potatoes, but not as smooth. The finished dish should have visible seeds and very small bits of squash (and meat). When fairly 'thick' and 'dry', squash should begin to brown slightly. Adjust seasoning. Done. This is not a 'crisp tender' type dish, and except for the bits of dark green onion tops is not especially colorful, but it is packed with flavor (and has the added benefit of using up a lot of squash).

The above dish is much easier/faster if you use a pressure cooker for the 1st step. Throw everything in a pressure cooker with the minimum water required for your cooker (1c for mine). Cook 3min in pressure cooker. Squash will now be tender and water will have cooked out of it. Dump into large skillet and proceed to the step where you cook uncovered on med high to cook off water. Finish as per above.

If using the pre-condensed, frozen squash for this dish, you just need to add sauteed onion, garlic, green onion, and seasonings, and go directly to the final step where you cook off the last bit of water and then brown on low. Best of luck to you. I would love to have your 'problem' (too much squash).

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Uh, you forgot the splash of Louisiana Red Hot Sauce, & the dash of Cayenne pepper...

At home, we would then turn this "squash casserole" into a baking dish, sprinkle seasoned bread crumbs on top, drizzle with some butter, and run it under the broiler for a golden brown, crispy top...

We also make a "smothered cabbage" dish almost exactly the same way, cooking the cabbage down with sauteed onions, bell peppers, a bit of minced garlic, and some seasoning ham. You cook off the excess liquid during the simmering process. Add a couple splashes of Hot Sauce and some cayenne pepper during the "smothering" phase. The cabbage comes out moderately "mushy" depending on what kind of texture you like.

Serve over steamed white rice. Best cooked down with brined pig tails that were parboiled (to leach out some of the salt).

YUMmy!

Linda

This message was edited Jun 26, 2013 9:34 AM

This message was edited Jun 26, 2013 9:39 AM

(Louise) Palm Bay, FL(Zone 9b)

Don't forget to grate and measure for breads. Freeze in pre measured bags. Dry in thin slices to add to winter soups. Do not worry about thawed texture. You can blend into creamy soups!

Middle, TN(Zone 6b)

Zucchini bread is delish! I freeze excess peppers and other veggies as well for soup because the texture doesn't matter. Easy peasy.

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Community gardens which grow for charity will also be happy to take extra produce off your hands. I donate my extra to a garden that grows fresh produce for low income, home-bound elderly people, but we also have church-based gardens locally that grow for other needy folks.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

None of the food banks around here will take fresh produce. What a shame.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Now we are really getting the ideas flowing, both for preserving and donating those squash - so many great ideas I think I will tag this thread for future reference.

Gymgirl - I could only offer our local 'recipe'. Glad you added your regional variations. Just to clarify, are you saying that you folks in TX (or LA) also make a squash dish like the one I described but with hot sauce, cayenne pepper, etc? And does 'smothered cabbage' refer to actual cabbage, and how does it figure in to the squash recipe?

Darius - Wow, that it a shame. Around here many grocery stores routinely donate their overripe produce to the food banks instead of selling it at reduced price. I miss the markdowns but love the idea of making the food available to area soup kitchens.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

I may have just stumbled upon another idea for using more squash now and in the future. Have you considered tossing one in with some fruit, yogurt, ice, and sweetener for a great, healthy smoothie? What about trying squash sorbet? I've seen some very unusual sorbets served in upscale restaurants. For either option, you could use either fresh or frozen squash.

Recently I've begun trying to reduce my food waste to near zero. I put leftover milk, cream, fruit juice, pureed fruits, etc in freezer bags, measured and labeled. Frozen flat and 'thin', I can often break off a chunk of milk or fruit w/o using the entire bag. Now I'm finding fabulous uses for these treasures, from sorbets to green smoothies. Yesterday for breakfast I tossed frozen melon, frozen milk, & frozen OJ into the VitaMix with a large carrot, whole apple, and a couple handfuls of frozen collard greens plus sweetener and was amazed to find that it was awesome! When mixed with fruit, you can't taste the vegetables, not even bitter greens. If collards work, I should think a squash would also work, fresh or frozen. I like to use my frozen fruits and veggies in lieu of ice cubes. This morning's smoothie was very similar except that I tossed in some Crystal Light, the powder not the mixed beverage.

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Unfortunately, many food banks don't have the infrastructure to deal with storing or distributing fresh produce in a timely fashion, and most of them in turn distribute to food pantries, not give it out directly, so there is a time lag.

As a gardener, it's frustrating to think about just donations of canned goods at Christmas when something like 50% of the produce in the US is lost to spoilage, but issues like refrigeration and labor and rapid delivery chains are hard to overcome, especially if a pantry serves a large area like most do.

If your food bank can't handle fresh goods, try a small food pantry or other organization that is close to the ultimate recipients. Your food bank might be able to direct you to one.

-------------------

Alternately, I suppose you could try making wine out of it, although the "Joy of Home Winemaking" is not enthusiastic about wine from winter squash and downright unencouraging about zucchini wine.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Two different recipes mentioned getting the liquid out of the squash. One, grate and squeeze, the other simmer covered on very low. If you aren't on a low sodium diet, may I suggest a sprinkle of salt? That is usually what is used to pull liquid out of raw veggies.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

DOS,
I edited my post. Your recipe is so close to how we smother cabbage, I forgot we were discussing eggplants!

I clarified in the post how we do both.

CUDOS to discovering the joys of blending & extracting!

I bought a Magic Bullet recently, and have been extracting kale, cucumbers, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, spinach, pineapples, peaches, goji berries, acai berries, greens, etc. into nutritious frozen drinks.

Middle, TN(Zone 6b)

My friend has the Magic Bullet and I've been thinking about buying one. How do you like yours? Any problems?

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Cville_Gardener,
I LOVE my Magic Bullet, but, I read the reviews too late. If I had, I probably would have bought a Ninja, instead.

In a nutshell, although my Bullet works fine right now, it probably only has about a 6 month -1 year reliability before it will start to malfunction. This would not be a problem, since I purchased the extended, 26-year replacement warranty.

The problem that almost every reviewer had is that the Magic Bullet customer service department is practically NON-EXISTENT, so, forget about calling to get any replacement, resolution, or refund....I paid almost $150 for mine (with the warranty).

Take my advice, and go spend the $$ on the Ninja (the one with all the bells and whistles). You'll be very happy, and someone will answer the phone when you call with any issues.

Linda

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Linda, I've heard that about the Ninja too. IF I ever get the $$, it will be a Ninja, highest amps (speed?) possible.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Gymgirl,

I've heard of the Magic Bullet, but am not certain how it works exactly. "Extracting" calls to mind those machines which extract the juice only w/o the pulp, peels, etc. The VitaMix is similar to a blender but with a super powerful motor capable of grinding whole fruits and vegetables, 'liquifying' everything, seeds, rinds, cores, etc included. The VitaMix also grinds nuts to make nut butters, grinds meat, and crushes ice (almost instantly). The power of the machine is quite impressive; however, the price is in line with that of the Kitchen Aid food processor which can probably do the same things and more. Had I taken the time to think things through, I suspect I might have preferred that food processor.

Just to clarify my description of the VitaMix...My $20, circa 1995, WalMart blender will eventually, & with much user frustration (starting, stopping, tamping), crush ice and grind most things. What's different about the VitaMix is the ease with which it powers through such things almost instantly. It will liquify a whole apple and large carrot in well under a minute, likewise a block of frozen watermelon.

I bought my machine some 5yrs or so ago but only took it out of the box and used it for the 1st time 2 days ago. For me, converting all manner of fruits and veggies to wonderfully tasty smoothies was a direct result of my efforts to cut food waste by freezing things that would normally spoil before I could finish them. Seeing that stack of frozen ingredients and remembering I had that VitaMix still in the box somewhere turned the light bulb on for me. I had seen numerous recipes for green smoothies but had no idea how delicious such concoctions could taste, so I, too, am glad I finally stumbled upon the idea. I probably didn't mention it earlier, but I did also include frozen, sliced watermelon rind (green outer skin removed) in my smoothies. It doesn't have much flavor, but is nutrient and fiber rich, 'free', and virtually calorie-free.

All of this may seem OT, but I brought it up because I suspect one could easily toss a summer squash (or a handful of frozen squash slices) into a smoothie along with some fruit and other ingredients and end up with a delicious 'fruit' smoothie that does not belie its veggie content. I thus thought this might be yet another yummy option for using up some of the excess squash.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

I cross-posted with you 'guys', btw. I was working on my VitaMix post as you were posting. Thus my post was not intended as part of your conversation about the merits of the Magic Bullet vs Ninja - nor is it intended to 'sell' the VitaMix, just to explain it. The VitaMix is in the $500 range, so like I said, I think I would buy the Kitchen Aid food processor if I had it to do over. I just think that would better fit my needs.

Middle, TN(Zone 6b)

Thanks, Linda. I had wondered about the Magic Bullet vs. The Ninja. Ninja it is! :)

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

DOS,
The Magic Bullet pulverizes the food particles such that you end up with a smooth (albeit "moderately pulp-y") beverage. More like a thick slushie. Even nuts are (relatively) pulverized into unrecognizable bits when you use the special blade.

It's great while it works. But, how LONG it will work is very, very questionable. And, like I said, the customer service phone DOES NOT ANSWER.

One reviewer held the line open, on hold, for a solid 8 hours -- no one ever came back to him...

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Folks,

I'm going to have to disagree with the assessment of the Ninja as having THE most powerful motor. 1st I would like to preface this by reiterating that I would probably not buy the VitaMix again. It was an impulse buy, and quite expensive for a smoothie maker (not all it does though). That said, I did find the VitaMix, which also pulverizes fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc into a slushy liquid, to be amazingly powerful, so much so that I found it difficult to imagine that the Ninja could be more powerful. I went to all 3 websites (Magic Bullet, Ninja, and VitaMix) and compared them just on the basis of motor power, and the VitaMix actually has the most powerful motor.

I based my comparison on the stats for my VitaMix vs the most powerful Ninja (per the Ninja website). Here are the results:

(1) The Ninja Master Prep and Master Prep Pro have 400W & 450W motors respectively. That converts to .54 hp (horsepower) and .60 hp respectively.
The Ninja 1200W Kitchen System has a 1200W motor. That converts to 1.61 hp. That is the most powerful item shown on the Ninja website.
(2) My VitaMix (which is not necessarily the most powerful one they sell) has a 2.25 hp motor. That's 2.25hp vs 1.61hp for the Ninja. The VitaMix wins by a landslide. (The VitaMix also comes with a 13yr warranty on the motor.)
(3) As to the Magic Bullet, I didn't read everything on the website word for word, but I scanned for the motor power and was unable to find it. They don't seem eager to advertise the actual numbers. On Amazon I found that the Magic Bullet power base (I'm guessing that's the motor for the product) has a 205W motor. That's only .27 hp (horsepower). That means the Magic Bullet is having to work much harder to do the work, which probably explains why they don't last.

All 3 of these products do basically the same thing. Of the 3, the VitaMix has the most powerful motor by far, but it is VERY expensive. I paid around $500 for mine (5yrs ago), but I now see it selling for a whopping $800. If you don't want to pay that outrageous price, I understand. I probably wouldn't do it over again, either, but If you are looking for the most powerful motor, that is the VitaMix.

Edited to add this blurb from the VitaMix site: "Vitamix commercial blenders are used in over 100,000 restaurants around the world; Dairy Queen, Orange Julius, Smoothie King, and Jamba Juice are some of the restaurants that use Vitamix blenders in their establishments."
Sorry for going OT here. Just wanted those who may be considering a purchase to have the facts. Now I'm going to get back to the subject of squash. :-)
Edited again to add that I am not affiliated with any of these products in any way, nor do I know anyone who is.

This message was edited Jun 26, 2013 2:47 PM

This message was edited Jun 26, 2013 2:49 PM

Pleasant Hill, CA(Zone 9b)

Oh, you good, good people! I sent out a question, got too busy at work to check... and look at what you've done!~

You've not only helped with the greatest dilemma of June & July, but schooled me on the Vitamix I lust for! Not for nuthin' but if too much squash is my greatest dilemma right now, I'm living well and appreciating it!

Okay: plan for this weekend: squash fritters (to freeze), dry (in dehydrator that for some reason is really energy efficient), zucchini bread, crustless fritattas! (I even have the aluminum foil trays to put it in!).

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

That is a great idea. I'm a " lazy eater " I eat bc I have to. So if i could grind it up into a smoothy and drink it I would. So I will, now I'm confused on which one to buy.Lol

This is the first time in decades that ive had too much squash. But now that I've discovered tulle, it may not be my last.

Pleasant Hill, CA(Zone 9b)

1lisac, Tulle? What is that?

Lincoln, NE(Zone 5b)

happygirl - tulle is a sheer fabric netting - think bridal veils - that is often used for covering plants to deter insects.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Thank you for answering. I posted a response but never checked to see if it made it. The tulle is inexpensive and easy to work with.

Woburn, MA(Zone 6b)

squash are good grilled with a little season salt or your favorite seasoning sprinkled on them along with some olive oil or butter

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