Yellow squash also referred to as “summer squash” holds a truly special place in American history. Do you know why? It is primarily because squash is believed to be native to the Americas where its remnants were found in great abundance in Mexico and Central America, going back as far as 7000 BC.
Although it has a southern origin, it quickly spread throughout North America in a very short period of time. Squash was one of the three primary crops cultivated in the Americas alongside beans and maize. These three primary crops together were given the name “Three Sisters” and they were believed to work symbiotically. It was also believed in ancient times that eating the three crops together provides perfectly balanced nutritional values including vitamins, carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein.
Have you ever wondered though, if the squash is a fruit or a vegetable? This is where it gets most confusing because botanically speaking, squashes are fruits because they are said to contain the plant’s seeds, however, they are majorly eaten and cooked as vegetables.
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Squash through American History
Squash typically falls into two broad categories, summer squashes, and winter squashes. Some of the more popular members of the summer squash family include zucchini, yellow summer squash, and pattypan squash while winter squashes include pumpkin, buttercup, acorn, kabocha, butternut, spaghetti squash, and Hubbard.
Squash is believed to have been consumed for over 10,000 years and was initially cultivated only for its seeds. The reason behind its initial cultivation is because earlier batches of squashes didn’t seem to contain a lot of flesh and were just really bitter and inedible. However, over time, greater varieties of squashes with sweet-tasting flesh were developed, and squash cultivation significantly spread through the Americas.
Interestingly, history shows that Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer, and navigator brought back squash to Europe from the Americas, or often referred to as the New World. And just like that, the cultivation of squash, like several other Native American foods, was introduced all around the world by Spanish and Portuguese explorers.
The Best Ways to Store Yellow Squash
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, storing them properly can be quite a task because they have a tendency to go bad or rotten over a very short period of time. Many a time, they even end up getting fungus which makes them completely inedible and unpalatable.
Similarly, with yellow squash, you may cry out in utmost delight as you embrace the bright yellowness of your newly cultivated batch of yellow summer squash. However, as the harvest piles seem to be ever-growing on your kitchen countertop, you look for ways to preserve your produce of delicious summer squash.
Read on to discover some of the best and easiest ways with tad creativity to properly store and preserve yellow squash to be able to enjoy them whenever you like.
Speaking of pickling; an image of delicious pickled cucumbers or gherkins is probably what comes to your mind. While cucumbers are definitely one of the most popular vegetables for pickling alongside peppers and artichokes, did you know that you can also pickle yellow squash and preserve them for about 2 to 3 months?
The process of pickling is usually coupled with vinegar which helps add a great acidic punch to your meals. Pickling is also one of the more popular methods of storing vegetables and fruits because the high acidic content provided by vinegar prevents spoilage and staling.
To pickle your stock of yellow squash, all you need to do is boil your favorite spices with a generous amount of vinegar and pour over sliced squash, covering it all evenly. Refrigerate it in an airtight bowl overnight and enjoy tangy, pickled squash the next day with your meal.
In the words of Paul Corsentino, a famous chef from Illinois, one must be adventurous with the spices you add to the pickling liquid. And for him, adventurous means something very aromatic and with a strong flavor, perhaps, something like Indian long pepper, one of his go-to spices for pickling.
Do you wish to eat yellow squash all year round without having to resort to the use of dangerous preservatives and chemicals? If yes, it is time to get your dehydrator out! Squash is
no exception when it comes to dehydrating because squash chips turn out extremely delicious and crispy once you pull them out of the dehydrator.
All you need to do is slice your yellow squashes as thin as possible and lay them properly to dry in your dehydrator.
The process of dehydration gradually evaporates all the water from vegetables which helps prevent the growth of bacteria anywhere on them. This provides vegetables with an extended shelf life without the presence of any preservatives or chemicals.
Once you have your dehydrated yellow squash ready, there are numerous ways you can eat them. You can rehydrate your dehydrated squash chips and add them to your salads or side dishes, or perhaps you can add a whole new flavor dimension to your cooking by throwing in the dehydrated squash to a soup or a slow-cooked stew. Other than this, if you are big on marinades, you can blend away your dehydrated yellow squash and drizzle it as a marinade over your chicken or vegetables.
3. Yellow Squash Puree
Often times, you will notice in your squash harvest that some of them have missing stems or are simply nicked. This makes them no good for long-term storage because they can’t stay fresh and alive without the stem for too long. So what do you do with them?
You preserve and store them by freezing squash purée!
Vegetables generally contain high levels of dietary fiber that help cater to numerous health issues like high blood sugar levels, risk of colon cancer and irregular bowel movements. While many vegetable preserving methods are said to reduce fiber content, pureed vegetables are believed to contain as much fiber as any other fresh vegetable.
All you need to do is cut the yellow squash in half and de-seed it. Roast it into a preheated oven at 350 degree F for about 45 minutes, or until it softens down a bit. Remove the squash pieces from the oven and allow cooling down at room temperature. Once cooled, scoop it all out from
the inside and gently mash with a fork. You can also purée it in a food processor until it is smooth and glossy.
Carefully measure the pureed mixture and pack it in plastic bags or containers and pop them in the freezer for later use. These frozen purée packs can easily last you up to weeks, depending on your usage and consumption.
4. Squash Noodles
You have probably heard of Zoodles, right? Or in simple words, zucchini noodles? Perhaps it is time to introduce the brand new Squash noodles, or ‘Sqoodles’ if you like.
Vegetable noodles are not only an excellent alternative to pasta, especially for someone on a carb-limiting diet, but it is also a great way to store and preserve your vegetables for many days.
You will need a spiral slicer for your Sqoodles which will help turn the yellow squash into noodle-like strands. Pack them into individual packets and freeze them for up to 4-5 days.
Before you go on to making your squash pasta, defrost the noodles and then cook them for about 2-3 minutes. Pair it with your desired protein and drizzle your favorite dressing on top and there you have it, a delicious serving of gluten-free and carb-free yellow squash pasta!
5. Frozen Squash Cubes
Cubed veggies are one of the most convenient ways to store your favorite vegetables during both the summer and the winter season.
If you love adding yellow squash to your stir-fries and casseroles, frozen squash cubes are the ultimate way to go about it.
All you have to do is peel the yellow squash and cut it into 1-inch cubes. Blanch the cubes properly and then place them on ice to cool them before popping into the freezer.
If you are to take a tip out of Carrie Gould’s book, a home-preserver and a gardener in southwestern New York, you ought to pack your yellow squash cubes in a vacuum sealer. Doing this helps take all the air out, making the squash cubes last longer than expected.
6. Squash Chips
Most of us absolutely love devouring potato fries or chips with a side of delicious garlic mayonnaise or plain tomato ketchup. However, given the recent health trends going on, perhaps it is best to trade processed and unhealthy potato chips from the market with healthier homespun yellow squash chips or fries. And that is another excellent way of storing your squash harvest at home.
You just need to slice yellow squash using a mandolin, perhaps with skin on because the skin of most vegetables contains a great number of nutrients and minerals. Pack them in individually sealed bags and store them in your freezer for almost a month.
You can either dehydrate these chips using a dehydrator, or you can sauté them with a bit of olive oil and serve them with a side of creamy mayonnaise or simple ketchup!
So, the next time you have a huge pile of yellow squash harvest sitting idly on your kitchen countertop, you know exactly what to do. Take out your dehydrator, your blender, mandolin, or
your pickling liquid, either way; you will have a stock of delicious yellow squash stored and preserved for as long as you desire!