Have you always wanted to know How To Make Squash Relish? Follow along and I will show you how I make mine.
This past week I picked up my first food co-op basket. I found a co-op local to me where folks place their orders each week online. The basket contains about 50% fruit and 50% veggies, all fresh produce, for a price of $20 (each co-op is different in pricing and content). On the day of pickup, you show up with a basket and stand in line, mark your name off a list, and are then handed a big basket filled with your produce, which you transfer to the basket you brought with you. (Plentiful Produce is the name of the co-op I’m using)
I stood in line with a purple laundry basket I’d bought at Dollar General earlier that morning, eyeing all of that fresh produce with a twinkle in my eye as I made plans for it. Once I got up to the table, I noticed a basket near the checklist known as the “Trade basket” where folks could trade produce they didn’t really want for something they would like better.
I saw all these people putting their fresh yellow squash in the trade basket and I thought to myself
“are they crazy?” Oh my goodness! They don’t like squash as much as I do! I can help them by trading something I have that they’d like better! I traded two bags of baby carrots (which we like, but I wanted squash!) and ended up with all of this:
They estimate this to be worth about double what we pay at Co-op prices and by today’s prices, I find that to be accurate.
I’m making it a point to “put up” more fresh fruits and veggies this summer and with the lack of sun on my land, this is an excellent help for that. I can grow some of my own, but not enough to be much more than a novelty. I still try, though. But out of this bounty, I made myself a big plate of squash for lunch (using this simple but delicious recipe), 12 jars of squash relish, and still had some left to freeze for another two meals. That’s just one vegetable!
I also ordered a flat of strawberries as an add on item and two pounds of local honey to help my son get through allergy season.
The strawberries were all washed, sliced, sugared, and frozen for strawberry shortcake this summer.
Today, I’m either making the green beans for supper or I’ll blanch them and freeze them for another day. I prefer canning or dehydrating food that I store when possible since it can easily survive electricity outages, but the fresh taste of green beans and strawberries that have been frozen sometimes wins out :). Plus, I already have a good supply of dehydrated strawberries which I can use for snacking, cobblers, breads, and other strawberry recipes.
So, let me show you how I made my squash relish….
I’m sorry, what? OH! What do you do with relish? Well, lets see, what do you NOT do with relish? Relish is kind of a condiment/side dish. You can add it on top of a hot dog, stir it into a bowl of beans for an added flavor punch, eat it with your cornbread, or even serve it atop a piece of meat at the dinner table. Relish is a quick and easy way to preserve garden veggies and compliments any “country” meal. Sometimes, though, I just eat it straight from the jar as a little snack. My family makes all kinds of relishes and I pretty much love them all. After reading this post, you might want to check out my corn relish, it’s another favorite and you can make it using frozen corn if you like.
To get started you’ll need: Squash, Onions, Salt (kosher, iodized, whatever you have), Sugar, and some seasonings. These can be based on your personal taste preferences. I am using a little celery seed and some dry italian seasoning. Pretty much any dried herb you like will work. Oh, also some black pepper.
Ummm, hello!! Where is my vinegar? That is one of the most important parts of this recipe and I guess he snuck off camera. You will most definitely need vinegar. I’m using white vinegar but you can use either white or apple cider. I like apple cider vinegar in my pickled onions but tend to lean more towards white in my veggies.
Chop up all of you squash into bite size pieces and place it in a large bowl.
Pour your salt over it.
“Christy, that’s a lot of salt.”
Yes, it is a lot of salt, but it’s not like we’re pouring it in a bowl and grabbing a spoon here. The salt is serving a purpose and then we will rinse it off. All of that lovely salt, which we are so very blessed to be able to obtain as easily as we can, is going to draw a great deal of water out of that squash.
Stir that up good to coat all of the pieces.
Then, cover it with a towel and set it aside for about 1-2 hours.
This is after an hour. Y’all know I wasn’t going to wait two whole hours, right? Check out all of the liquid we have. It easily fills up half the bowl.
Place all of that squash in a colander to drain.
Rinse it really well with cool water and let it continue to drain while you prepare the vinegar mixture.
So this here is vinegar, sugar, pepper, celery seed, and Italian seasoning in a big old pot.
Bring this to a boil over medium high heat while stirring constantly.
Remember, you don’t have to use Italian seasoning. If you like Basil, use that. Dill would work, my granny uses Tumeric, etc. Just go with what you like. This is pretty hard to mess up.
Now if you look down at the recipe at the bottom some folks might balk at the amount of sugar in this pot.
Correction: some folks *will* balk at it. I’ll get emails. This ain’t my first rodeo…
That is because people aren’t used to canning things, making relish, or looking at old timey recipes. This is NOT a sweet relish. In fact, it is pretty dang sharp because I like sharp vinegar relishes. So if you aren’t as into the sharp vinegar taste as I am, I suggest you add a little more sugar, 1/2 cup is a good starting point.
Again, we aren’t placing that sugar in a bowl and eating it with a spoon. We are adding it to a liquid that will be used to preserve our vegetables. If the thought of that just makes you die a little inside and you really want to use stevia or some such, go for it. I have no advice or help to offer you there as you’ll be on your own, but trial and error are wondrous things if you have the time and inclination :).
Once your mixture is at a good boil and all of the sugar is dissolved, add in your squash and onions. Continue to boil for five minutes, stirring a good bit and pushing the veggies down into the mixture to get them cooked a little.
You need to make sure that you have enough vinegar here to cover your veggies once they are in the jars… So if you end up with a little more squash and onion than you realized, you can add more vinegar and sugar in ratio of 1/3 cup of sugar for every additional 1 cup of vinegar added. Don’t be afraid to taste it and see if you’d like it sweeter, though.
Just add it in right now and stir it up good, it’ll have plenty of time to dissolve.
After five minutes, remove from heat. You can now place this in jars to can. You don’t *have* to can this. You can just put it in containers in your fridge and it will keep for months. The whole point of me doing this, though, is that I am not going to depend on a fridge or freezer in order to keep my relish fresh and “good”, so I’m canning it.
I have an entire canning tutorial that you can check out here. You don’t need any special equipment beyond a large pot with a lid and a dish towel since this is a high acid solution and only requires water bath canning. Low acid vegetables and other items we want to can require a pressure canner in order to preserve safely. I don’t have a pressure canner as I don’t have a stove that I can use one on right now but that is going to change in a few months :).
Your canning jars should be clean and sterile. What I do is place them all on a towel on my counter and then fill them up with boiling water and let them sit a few minutes. Then, I simply empty the water out of them and they are ready to go. Fill each jar with relish, leaving 1/4 – 1/2 inch headspace at the top. Once you are done, take a clean dish rag or paper towel and dampen it a bit. Wipe around the tops and side threads of your jars to make sure they are clean – this will keep your lids from being all stuck later on when you want to open the jar to eat! Place lids and rings on jars and shut tightly.
To can these, I place a dish towel in the bottom of a large pot and then fill it with water. Add my jars and make sure there is at least an inch or two of water over their tops. Bring this to a full boil…
Once it is boiling, cover with a lid and allow to boil for fifteen minutes. These are half pint jars so that is why they only have to be boiled for such a short amount of time. If they were pints, the time would be thirty minutes.
The lid is very important as this helps regulate the heat and get our veggies safely canned. But seriously, if you are canning for the first time or just want to get up to date on the latest information on safe canning, click here to see my tutorial I did a few years back. Harry Connick Junior will sing to you while you’re there, so it’s a win/win.
When you’re done, carefully remove the jars (I use a pair of canning tongs to do this that I purchased for less than three dollars at any walmart) and place them on a towel lined counter. Allow to cool completely. As they cool, you’ll hear a POP sound when the lids seal. Once they are cooled, press on the lids and make sure they are sealed. If the center presses in and pops back up, that one isn’t sealed. Make sure the top of the jar is clean (no sticky residue) and try putting a new lid on it and canning it again and that should work.
My two favorite canning tools:
- Canning Scoop – This perfectly scoops relishes, jams, and the like into your jars and holds exactly enough for an 8 ounce half pint jar. It also has a hook on the side so it can hook onto the side of the pot while you are working, rather than slide down in it (been there, done that). You can purchase one at Wal Mart and some other places that sell canning supplies but here is a link to see what it looks like and purchase at Amazon if you’ve a mind to.
- Canning Tongs – these make lifting jars from your hot water bath easy as pie. It is possible to do this with regular tongs but the process is tedious and involves a lot of being splashed with boiling hot water. Click here to see them on Amazon and you can purchase them there or just see what they look like to help you find them locally.
Find a Food Co-op near you – I recommend starting at LocalHarvest.org and doing a search for “Co-op” up at the top. Be sure you select “co-op” from the drop down menu on the left. If you are local to North Alabama, the co-op I am using is called Plentiful Produce. They have pickup locations all over my area and the deadline to order is today ~gulp!~.
To store these long term, remove the rings. The tops are sealed so they will stay on just fine. I don’t really remove my rings because I tend to use my canned goods within a year or so but if you are storing them longer the rings may rust, depending on the storage conditions. I suggest storing them inside your house if at all possible, for best quality.
Get my squash relish recipe!
- 12-15 small to mid sized squash
- 2-3 sweet yellow onions
- 1.5 cups salt
- 4 cups white vinegar
- 1 +1/3 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Cut the squash into bite size pieces and place in a large bowl. Pour salt over and stir well to coat. Cover and set aside for one to two hours to allow it to weep.
- Drain squash in a colander and rinse well to remove salt. Allow to continue to drain while you prepare the vinegar mixture.
- In a large pot, place vinegar, sugar, and seasonings. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often.
- Chop onions and add onions along with squash to boiling vinegar mixture, stir well. Boil for five minutes and then remove from heat.
- Place relish in canning jars and can according to directions here (and in this post above) or place in lidded containers and store in the refrigerator.
I’ve also joined a CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) where, in exchange for my payment, I receive a “share” of produce from a farm each week. This will all be local food from a farm and their partners in Tennessee. My CSA doesn’t start until May but I’ll let ya know how it goes! I plan on keeping up with both the Co-op and the CSA in order to put lots of fresh food up. There will be a whole lot of canning and dehydrating going on in my house this summer and I sure am grateful for it!
“I’ve found that there is always some beauty left — in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you.”
~ Anne Frank, submitted by Jenny. Click here to submit your own.