Ferment This: Butternut Squash

Autumn is the season of squash. Sure, squash is available at other times of the year (like the eponymous summer squash and overabundant zucchini), but for sheer variety, fall can’t be beat. All manner of gourds – decorative and edible – beckon from grocery store produce shelves and market tables. Time to get creative and preserve some of these gems!

I picked up a butternut squash from Trader Joe’s recently and initially planned on baking it. Butternut squash has a spongy texture that reminds me of a much-woodier version of eggplant; long roasted, it softens and can attain an almost pudding-like consistency. Having made fermented rutabaga and golden beet “pickles” recently, though, I figured why not ferment some of the squash, too?

This is a very easy recipe – I just used the same method I employed with the root veggie pickles:

  • Slice the veggies (about a half a medium squash, into partial medallions)
  • Pack them into the jar
  • Pour brine (1 Tbsp sea salt to 2 cups dechlorinated water) over the veggies so they’re completely submerged
  • Pour in 1 Tbsp starter (optional – I used kombucha tea vinegar)
  • Weigh down with glass weight (I use a single Pickle Pebble for a small-mouth glass canning jar)
  • Screw the canning lid and ring down tightly

I’ll “burp” the jars daily to release any built-up pressure. When I did that today, they fizzed nicely and tiny bubbles rose to the top of the jar.

I have a tendency, in my enthusiasm, to overfill my jars and then they overflow, so I store my active ferments on a tray to catch any “ooze”. Better on the tray than all over a counter or floor.

This tray catches the overflow from too-full jars!

Checking the jars daily also allows me to top them up with more brine, if needed; I keep any leftover extra brine in the fridge for quick top-ups.

These pickles should be ready in roughly a week, depending on how they taste…and temperature will affect fermenting time. Since this is the first time I’ve tried this technique with squash, I’ll definitely update this post after sampling them.

Do you have tips or recipes for fermenting squash? Please share in the comments!

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