Time for butternut squash, pears, apples, and cool air! At this point I could say something cliche, like Fall is my favorite time of year, or there is nothing like the color of the turning leaves in Autumn. Honestly, I just love when the seasons change! It really doesn't matter which season. The changing of Winter to Spring, Spring to Summer and Summer to Fall remind me of our connection to the Earth and that we are dependent on these changes for our survival.
This year I had a great butternut squash harvest; for the first time there was enough squash to put-up and can. I started with seeds that grew into butternut squash, then I brought them in and canned them for use during the winter. It sounds simple and a lot of people go through this process every year, but not me. This was the first time I completed this process from start to finish. I can not describe the feeling of accomplishment, but I can tell you, if I can do it, so can you! Let me share the canning process with you. Oh yeah, and there's pie! I share a great low calorie pie recipe so read through to the end.
How to Can Butternut Squash
Peel your butternut squash.
Cut your squash in half, spoon the seeds out. Cut your squash into one inch cubes.
Put all you squash in a bowl.
Wash your jars, your lids and your rings.
Place your canning jars in the oven. I let them heat up to 350 degrees to sterilize them for ten minutes then turn the oven to 200 degrees to keep them warm.
I thought I would show you a picture of my crowded stove. You need a pot to blanch your squash and a hot water source - I used my kettle. I then put my pressure canner on the stove to get it warm (with the bottom rack and 3 inches of water). Also place a smaller pot on the stove to heat up your lids and rings. I bring my lids and rings to almost boiling then let them simmer until I'm ready to place them on the jars. This process looseness the rubber so there will be a good seal.
Here is a picture of the inside of the pressure canner and the two canning racks that come with this particular model. Go ahead and place one rack on the bottom along with about 3 inches of water and put in on the stove to warm up, as mentioned above.
Blanch your squash. The cooking time will depend on your pot and how much squash you cook at one time. You want the squash to be barely cooked. I filled my blanching pot with water, brought the water to a boil and then dropped my squash in a little at a time. If you put the squash in the pot, add water, then bring both to a boil, the squash will probably cook unevenly. So some of your squash will be mushy and some will be not cooked at all. It really depends on the amount you are processing, but for this amount, I found this process worked best. After the squash is blanched fill your jars and then fill the jars with hot water. Your jars at this point are hot from just being taken out of the oven. Place hot food in hot jars otherwise you risk a jar breaking from the temperature difference. Some people can their squash or potatoes with the same water they blanched them in, but I wanted the liquid in my finished jars to be clear. The cooking water is filled with starch from the vegetables and it's been my experience that canned vegetables are more likely to turn to mush if you fill the jars with their cooking liquid. Also, if you do over cook squash or have it turn to mush you might not want to can it. You cannot can winter squash or pumpkin puree safely. The food is too dense to cook evenly and you cannot be sure the food reaches the temperatures necessary to kill botulism.
Leave one inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles with a spatula or this tool that measures headspace. Wipe off the rims of the jars so that you can get a good seal.
Remove the rings from the pot. This tool has a magnet on the end and makes it easier to grab the rings and the lids. Also, if you place the lids and rings in the pot inside each other it will prevent the tops/lids from sticking together. Place the rings on the jars and tighten “finger tight.” Finger tight means not too tight and not too loose. Just tighten them as far as they will go without forcing them.
This All American Pressure Canner will process 14 jars. I placed 7 jars on the bottom rack. Go ahead and place the second rack in and place your remaining 7 jars on top of the top rack.
Place the top on the canner. When you tighten the lid you always fasten opposite screws with even torque. Never fasten one end and then fasten the other. Also, this canner has a metal on metal lid which needs to be lubricated with olive oil. After the lid is tightened you must let steam escape from the vent pipe for 10 minutes before you put the weight on the cover. This procedure is called exhausting and is necessary when pressure canning.
Here you can see the canner coming up to pressure.
Can butternut squash at 10 lbs pressure for 90 minutes or according your altitude chart. You can find adjustments for altitude here. To look up your altitude go here. On the right is a picture of the gauge at 10lbs pressure. All American warns you not to depend on this gauge but that it is only a secondary measure. The weight, pictured on the right is what you should rely on. You can see I've got it set at 10lbs pressure. You want to wait until the weight begins the juggle before you start your timer. Then adjust your heat so it jiggles 1 to 4 times per minute.
Let the canner cool. Do not remove the weight until the pressure is zero. Then remove the weight. Everything should read zero before removing the lid. Remove the lid away from you. Here it gets a little tricky because everything is still hot but in order for the lid not to form a vacuum seal you want to remove it as soon as it comes to zero pressure. However, you need to be careful that moving around your jars will not cause liquid to spill out.
Losing liquid is a common occurrence with pressure canning and is caused by one of several things. You might have over packed your jars. You might have removed the jars from the canner too soon. As you can see here I lost a little liquid, but the jars sealed. Although the food might have a bit of a color deterioration over time the food is still safe to eat. Let your jars sit and cool for at least eight hours. Remove the rings. If the rings stay on and the lid fails (becomes unsealed) while the ring is on, the lid may reseal itself. However, bacteria has already invaded the jar and the food should not be eaten; with the ring left on there is no way you will know about the resealing. If the rings are off the lid has no pressure to reseal itself so if the lid seal fails then you’ll know and you can throw that jar out. Label and put away.
Here is a great low calorie butternut squash recipe adapted by from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.
Butternut Squash Pie
Makes 8 servings
- 1 1/2 C coconut milk
- 1 T Ener-G egg replacer
- 1/4 C water
- 1 T cornstarch
- 1 t vanilla
- 2 C butternut squash
- 1/2 C rice flour
- 2 t baking powder
- 3/4 C sugar
- 1/4 C ginger powder
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1/2 t nutmeg
- 1/4 t ground cloves
- 1/2 t salt
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9-inch deep dish pie pan with cooking spray. Use a deep dish because the pie will rise during cooking but then fall back down.
- Make puree from your canned butternut squash by straining out the water and mushing the squash with a fork or potato masher. This pie works best with very dry/drained squash. I simply placed my butternut squash puree in a coffee filter and let it drain for a few hours. If you're in a hurry you can pick it up and gently squeeze the excess water out.
- Put the first five ingredients in the blender and blend. Add the butternut squash puree. Add the remaining ingredients and blend on high for about 2 minutes. Note: I made the rice flour with my grain mill. Pour into pie pan and bake for about 60 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and cool on the counter.
This pie has about 153 calories per slice. Yum!