Step-by-Step Guide for Pickling and Canning Squash

Pickled yellow squash
Canning squash begins by rinsing the squash, then slicing it into ½-inch pieces. Pack squash into sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace, and process in a pressure canner for 55-90 minutes, or pickle the squash and process in a boiling water canner for 10-20 minutes.

What is the Best Way to Can Squash?

Pressure canning is the safest way to can winter squash. For summer squash, it’s best to make an acidified condiment like pickles or relish before canning in a water bath canner.

Water bath canned jars of canned summer squash
Canned summer squash

Pressure Canning Winter Squash Guide

Are you canning squash for the first time?  Follow these steps to effortlessly pressure can fresh winter squash:

  1. Choose small to medium-sized winter squash varieties with firm skin and average weight.  Avoid bruised squash or those with dry and discolored stem ends.
  2. Wash the squash thoroughly in cool water.  Cut the squash in half, then carefully remove the seeds with clean hands or a spoon. Peel the squash, then cut it into 1-inch cubes.
  3. Wash pint or quart jars, canning lids, and rings in warm soapy water and rinse. Transfer the canning jars into a pot of simmering water and keep them hot until the squash is ready.
  4. In your pressure canner, place 2-3 inches of water per the manufacturer’s instructions.  Place a jar rack at the bottom and put the canner on the stove to heat.
  5. Boil the diced squash cubes in water for 2 minutes.
  6. Use a ladle to transfer the hot squash cubes into the heated canning jars. Top the jars with boiling cooking liquid, leaving 1-inch headspace.
  7. Remove trapped air bubbles using a plastic knife or bubble popper.
  8. Wipe the jar rims with a damp paper towel, then apply canning lids and screw bands. Twist the bands until they are fingertip tight.
  9. Load the canner with the filled jars, ensuring the jars don’t touch each other or the sides of the canner. Once the water inside is at a rolling boil, place the lid on top of the canner.
  10. Open the vent hole by removing the weight or pressure regulator to release steam steadily for 10 minutes.
  11. Close the vent pipe and let the pressure build up to the pressure per your elevation:

Recommended processing time for winter squash in a weighted gauge canner.

Altitude (ft)     0 – 1,0001,001 +    
Pint jars (55minutes)    10 lbs 15 lbs
Quart jars (90 minutes)   10 lbs 15 lbs

Recommended processing time for winter squash in a dial gauge canner.

Altitude (ft)  0 – 20002,001 – 4,0004,001 – 6,0006,001 +
Pint jars (55 minutes)11 lbs 12 lbs 13 lbs 14 lbs 
Quart jars (90 minutes)11 lbs 12 lbs 13 lbs 14 lbs 
  1. Process pints for 55 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes. 
  2. Once the processing time lapses, turn off the heat.  Wait for your canner to depressurize naturally and for the gauge to reach zero before opening the lid.
  3. Carefully remove the jars from the hot water using a jar lifter.  Place them on a thick, clean dish towel, 1 inch apart, to cool for 24 hours.
  4. Remove the screw bands and inspect the seals on the jars. Press the top of each lid. Sealed jars have lids that don’t flex.
  5. Unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used within 3-5 days. Sealed jars may be labeled and stored in a cool, dry, dark place.

Can Winter Squash Be Canned in a Water Bath?

No – plain winter squash cannot be canned in a water bath. This vegetable is a low-acid food that requires extra high heat of 240-250°F to destroy bacteria that can cause botulism. The USDA has published a pressure-canning winter squash recipe for those who wish to can plain winter squash.

Canned winter squash
Winter squash

Is there a Difference Between Preserving Summer and Winter Squash?

Yes – both summer and winter squash are prepared differently and have different canning processes. The rind of winter squash is hard and should be removed, while summer squash has a thin skin that may be left on. Pressure canning is recommended for winter squash, while pickling in a water bath is recommended for summer squash.

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Canned summer squash

How to Make Summer Squash Pickles

  • Author: Regie
  • Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes


Make summer squash, zucchini, or yellow squash pickles in a boiling water bath canner using this simple recipe! Enjoy summer squash pickles all year as a condiment or side dish.


  • 16 cups fresh zucchini, sliced
  • 4 cups onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup canning or pickling salt
  • 4 cups white vinegar (5%)
  • 2 cups sugar (brown or granulated)
  • 4 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 2 tablespoons ground turmeric


  1. Rinse the zucchini or summer squash in cool water. Place on a cutting board and remove the tip and end of each squash. Slice the squash into uniform pieces – either sticks or 1/2” pieces.
  2. Transfer the squash to a large pot and add the pickling salt, and onions.  Cover the squash with 1 inch of cold water and let the mixture stand for 2 hours.
  3. Drain the salty water from the squash in a colander.
  4. Combine vinegar, sugar, celery seed, mustard seeds, and turmeric in a separate 2-3 quart saucepan. Boil the mixture vigorously before adding the rinsed summer squash and onions.
  5. Wait for the mixture to resume a rolling boil.  Cook for 5 minutes and then remove it from the stove.
  6. Ladle the hot squash mixture and pickling liquid into sterilized hot canning jars.  Leave ½-inch headspace.
  7. Remove air bubbles with a non-metallic utensil.
  8. Wipe jar rims with a damp cloth or paper towel.  Place sterilized lids on the jars and apply the canning rings, screwing until fingertip tight.
  9. Put the jars into your prepared boiling water bath canner, ensuring water is 1 inch above the jar tops.
  10. Bring the water to a rolling boil, then place the canner’s lid on top. Process the squash in pints or quart jars per your elevation:

Processing Time Per Elevation

  • 0 – 1,000ft: 10 minutes
  • 1,001-6,000ft: 15 minutes
  • 6,001ft and above: 20 minutes

Post Processing

  1. After the processing time, turn off the stove.  Let the jars sit for two minutes before opening the lid.
  2. Carefully remove the processed jars using canning tongs and place them on a cushioned countertop to cool for 12-24 hours.
  3. Remove the screw bands and confirm the jars are sealed before storing them in a cool, dry, dark place.
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Rest Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes


  • Serving Size: 1 pint
  • Calories: 205kcal
  • Sugar: 28.7g
  • Sodium: 800.7mg
  • Fat: 0.6g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 46.9g
  • Fiber: 3.2g
  • Protein: 2g

Can Summer Squash Be Canned in a Pressure Canner?

According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, summer squash develops a soft texture on cooking and is tightly packed into canning jars. For canning summer squash, it is best to acidify it in a vinegar brine and process it in a water bath for the best quality.

What are the Benefits of Canning Squash?

  • Convenience – Canning squash gives you a ready-to-use ingredient.
  • Extended shelf life – Canned squash is shelf-stable and can last up to one year.
  • Flavor– Squash adds a sweet, nutty taste to your favorite pies and squash dishes.
  • Health benefits– Canned squash is rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber, and may help with cancer prevention.
  • Versatility – Canned squash can be eaten as a veggie side dish or added to numerous recipes, including squash casserole.

Does Canning Squash Make it Too Soft?

Yes – squash has a delicate flesh that develops a soft consistency when cooked and canned.  This texture makes it best for making mashed squash dishes, purees, or pie filling. To preserve a crisper texture, it’s best to make squash pickles.

How Long Does it Take to Can Squash?

Canning winter squash requires a processing time of 55-90 minutes. Pickled or summer squash relish takes 15-20 minutes to process in a water bath canner.

Summer squash relish in canning jars with tags
Summer squash relish

Best Method for Storing Canned Squash

Store sealed jars of canned squash in a cool, dark, dry area.  Avoid storage areas with fluctuating temperatures and humidity levels. Always check the jar seals and label canned goods before storing them.

What is the Shelf Life of Canned and Pickled Squash?

Water bath canned pickled squash and pressure-canned winter squash lasts up to 18 months.  The USDA recommends using home-canned summer squash within one year for the best quality. Opened jars of pickled squash should be stored in a refrigerator and used within seven days.


Growing up as a farm girl, Regie assisted her grandparents in canning sheep meat and helped her mother sell canned carrots. This grew her passion for canning from a young age. As a writer, she uses her canning experience to give creative, practical ideas for preserving different foods to canning enthusiasts.

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