Tuesday July 20th 2010, 9:56 am

Early Prolific straightneck summer squashes

Month seven Tigress’s can jam canning challenge and for July the choice of ingredients was mine, and I choose cucurbits. I began by making a jam to use up some Galia melons I’d bought to photograph, along with some frozen plums that needed using from the freezer before this years harvest requires the space. Anyhow, that’s another story, jam wasn’t what I wanted from the July canjam. The best thing about taking part in this global canning event is the stretch, the discovering anew. I was wanting to do some pickling.

summer squash pickle canned

I am a pickle novice, having never been drawn to them, through lack of positive experiences. Pickles for me have been onions served with cheese, English ploughmans-lunch style, Branston pickle, a manufactured brown sweet gloopy relish that has its moments in a cheese butty (sandwich), and pickled beetroot, that was once the only way you ever found this root veg and that comes with a powerful acetic hit. I do have one recollection of my friend Mary eating pickled umeboshi plums to ward off sea sickness when island hopping in Greece, they seemed pretty disgusting but did work. Later in life the pickled ginger with sushi element crept into my middle class lifestyle. That’s it, the full extent of my pickling life …. so far.

summer squash pickle canned and ready for the pantry

I’ve read loads of recipes and am intrigued by what is called in the US ‘Bread and Butter’ pickle. It obviously doesn’t mean these are included as ingredients but does it mean that it is meant to be eaten on bread and butter? I assumed this to be so until a google search ‘what does bread and butter pickle mean?’ pointed out another alternative. Something that is your ‘bread and butter’ is your main form of income, so bread and butter pickle could be the breadwinner of the pantry, your stalwart pickle, a good all rounder that you can’t do without. Anymore ideas, please let me know. I ended up making up a recipe based on the many I’d read. I think my summer squash pickle is more or less a bread and butter pickle, made with summer squash instead of cucumbers.
Luckily, this week in the Taurus market garden, the first summer squashes are ready to harvest. Some Early Prolific straightneck squashes provided the perfect starting point for my foray into pickling. This yellow squash is lovely eaten raw and has an excellent flavour. I decided to go for colour, adding plump purple scallions and orange sweet peppers into the mix. As often happens, the colours change during preparation, in particular the purple onions lost their hue, but I still ended up with a beautifully coloured pickle with a summery vibe.
If you, like me, have never really tried pickles, MAKE THIS ONE!!!! It is just fantastic. I only made it 2 days ago and even without the usual month mellowing off period, it tastes amazing. I haven’t a clue what you serve it with, but straight from the jar with a fork is working for me. This was just what I needed to turn me into a pickle fiend.

summer squash pickle, the colours of summer


Makes 6 x 500ml (1pint) jars

1.5Kg ( 3 1/4lbs) summer squash courgettes or small zucchini
400g (14 oz) onions
300g (11oz) sweet peppers, 2-3 peppers
200g (7 oz) salt
1 ltr (1 3/4 pint) white wine vinegar
250ml (1/2 pt) water
450g (1lb) sugar
1 1/2 tsp celery seed
2 Tbsp mustard seed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
6 small dried red chillies
1 tsp black peppercorns

Top and tail the squash and cut into uniform sized slices, so they are about .5cm (1/4 in) thick. Slice the onions and deseed and slice the peppers. Place all the vegetables in a glass bowl and sprinkle with the salt, turning them all over so the salt is evenly distributed. Cover the bowl and leave for 12-24 hours. Drain off the liquid that is drawn from the veg, rinsing and draining thoroughly several times to remove as much salt as possible, finally leaving to drain.
Prepare the water bath, jars and seals ready for canning. For more info about how to hot water process, refer to the guide here. Place the vinegar, water, sugar and spices in a pan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes then add the vegetables. Bring back to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Pack the vegetables into hot sterilised jars, filling them to leave required headroom, then top up with the vinegar, distributing the seeds evenly amongst the jars. Seal and process the jars for 10 minutes. Pickles always improve on keeping for at least a month before opening, if you can wait that long.
Pickles have a high acid content so can often be made without hot water processing (canning) them. If you can them you are making doubly certain that they will be preserved safely for a year or more.

delicious summer squash bread and butter pickle

Mmmmm… Bread & Butter pickles. Your squash pickle is gorgeous and I’m going to give it a go. I have a similar problem to yours, straight from the jar with a fork. But I also like to chop them up and mix with mayo and ground, salty country ham for a ham spread. If you were in the U.S. I’d say Helman’s Mayo only (Grampa’s Rule) but any mayo is good. Again, chopped they make a mighty fine relish and a good ingredient for tartar sauce. A must on the relish tray at holiday dinners. Great on burgers and beef sandwiches. *Eyes preserves shelf*…Where’s my fork?

Comment by Rebecca 07.20.10 @ 4:27 pm

Wow, how timely. I just made squash pickles from the Ball Home Preserving book. I added jalapenos and boy are they good. sweet and spicy.

Comment by frankifries 07.20.10 @ 6:24 pm

These pickles look amazing! 🙂 Thanks for sharing…

Comment by Melanie B. 07.21.10 @ 2:03 am

Hi Rebecca
I just made a sandwich with mayo and the summer squash pickle and it was delicious. Made me laugh though – it was just like really good Heinz sandwich spread that I used to eat when I was a kid! Thanks for the suggestions.

Comment by laundryetc 07.21.10 @ 6:11 pm

You’re welcome! Glad it conjured childhood comfort food memories for you! It’s one of mine too. In my opinion here in the US we don’t have any really good commercial potted meat products or spreads, or maybe I’ve just never had them. Mom ran from the farm as soon as she could and if it was in a can she thought it was heaven so I was subjected to them early. It was being forced to eat Grampa’s ham spread that convinced me that meat spreads could be beyond delicious! I ran back to the farm as fast as I could!

Comment by Rebecca 07.22.10 @ 4:24 pm

I’m not a big friend of pickles, but this one looks so good that I might try it!

Comment by ap269 07.23.10 @ 3:20 pm

I think ‘bread and butter’ comes from the idea that these would be your workhorse sweet pickle. With the cucumber cut into rounds, they pickle quickly and are more versatile in sandwiches and on the side, plus quickly chopped, they make a good relish (working off the US hamburgers and hot dogs idea generated in the 1950s). We usually make a fresh version (refrigerator) in the summer months and then can several types (bread and butter, sweet spears, dill spears, and fermented half-sours) in the later summer/early fall. Honestly, with all of the great produce we can get year round these days here in the US, we make quick refrigerator pickles with a lot of different vegetables – and the nice thing there is you don’t have to worry about the acid level to can. You can make those beets with rice vinegar (or honey vinegar!) and just a touch of sweetness.

Comment by Tarc 07.25.10 @ 9:38 pm

I’ve read a few explanations of where the name “bread-and-butter pickles” came from, and they all suggest it’s because they’re a thrifty workaday pickle. Some do say that people used to eat them on bread when heartier fare was not available, but I don’t know whether to believe that or not.

Comment by Sarah B. Hood 07.28.10 @ 3:28 pm

Hi Gloria, thanks for your comment on my blog. Wow your blog is fantastic, all that jam and fruit, looks superb!

Comment by Damo 07.29.10 @ 9:33 pm

Gloria hello and thank you for the comment on my craft /recipe blog about the crocheted throw. I am so glad you left one as I haven’t visited your blog in a while and here I am with far too many yellow courgettes and there you are with a fabulous recipe. I am going to try it this week.

Comment by maureen 07.29.10 @ 11:53 pm

I have to admit I’ve never thought of pickling squash, but I’m definitely inspired to try making some after reading your rave review! Love the yellow of the squash next to that gorgeous blue bowl. 🙂

Comment by Farmgirl Susan 08.08.10 @ 4:03 pm

OMG this is so good, we had bunches of squash and we were unsure of what to do with all of it. so glad we tried this….will do it many more times..THANKS…

Comment by Shawn 07.09.12 @ 10:57 pm