Making Pickled Butternut Squash

So, here is the Pickled Butternut Squash I promised last week.

It wasn’t very hard to do, other than I went about seeding and peeling the squash in the wrong way. 

Apparently you are supposed to cut it in half lengthwise first, scoop out the flesh, then use a regular vegetable peeler to get the skin off. I’ve never cooked a butternut squash, so I was unaware of the density of the flesh or the skin. But I did remember why we don’t cut pumpkins for Halloween in the Quilted Pig household.

You may wonder why I’m wearing a glove in the photo. It’s because having stuff under my fingernails really grosses me out. I find that when working with anything wet, greasy, or otherwise unpleasant to have under my nails, a glove on the hand that will get dirty helps. I only do one hand so that I can touch my knife or the fridge door without getting the yuck on them. It also reminds me not to switch my knife back and forth from hand to hand and getting the handle dirty.

Back to the task at hand, I cut the bottom off the squash and then used that flat surface to stand it up and slice the skin off with a chef knife. I used a spoon to scoop out the seeds and goop. Then I discovered that the goop hadn’t separated from the flesh as expected so I used my smallest paring knife to scrape it out.

Once I had the squash all cleaned, I cut it into as uniform chunks as possible and proceeded with the following recipe that made 5 1-pint jars. I’m assuming that you know the canning basics of sterilizing your jars, lids and rings  in a boiling water bath prior to use.

Pickled Butternut Squash:

  • 3 lbs butternut squash, prepared in your preferred style from those noted above
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 10 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • 5 cups white wine vinegar (though I ended up subbing some regular white vinegar)
  • 2 cups honey (this is a good time to use up any that may have crystallized in the back of the cupboard)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 10 whole peppercorns
  • 6 cloves coarsely chopped garlic
  • 1 bay leaf

Combine the squash and salt in a large bowl and mix to coat. Even though butternut squash is pretty firm and dry, it should begin to weep its extra water pretty quickly. Allow to stand for 3 or 4 hours. Transfer the squash to a colander and rinse with cold water. 

Combine the remaining ingredients in a large non-reactive pot and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the honey. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and remove the bay leaf.

While the pickling liquid is simmering, pack the squash and oregano sprigs into hot, sterilized jars leaving a half-inch head space. Try to arrange things so that the oregano sprigs are displayed against the glass.

Use a canning funnel and ladle the hot pickling liquid into the jars. Try to distribute the spices evenly among the jars. Wipe the jar rims and adjust the lids. At this point I had a ton of the pickling liquid left so I sliced up a zephyr squash from the fridge and made a sixth jar from that. How tightly you pack the butternut squash and how much water wept out of it will affect how much pickling liquid you actually use. It’s up to the chef whether to experiment with another vegetable as I’ve done or to throw it out.

Pickled Butternut Squash with oregano that was used in it in the background 

Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. You will start timing when the water returns to a boil. Remove the jars from the canner and cool on wire racks or, as I do, on towels folded on the counter (see above, where you can also see the jar of zephyr squash in the background). Let the squash rest at room temperature for at least three weeks before serving. I’m looking forward to serving this squash with some of the fall dishes that I’m already planning. What would you with it?