Summer squash is common in many southern gardens. It was a staple on my grandma’s kitchen table.
Varieties include CROOKNECK, PATTYPAN, and ZUCCHINI; however, I am a lover of summer squash.
Summer squash has thin, edible skins and soft seeds. The tender flesh has a high water content, a mild flavor, and does not require long cooking.
It is ideally grilled, steamed, boiled, sauteed, fried, or used in stir-fry recipes.
Buying & Using Supermarket Summer Squash
Small to medium size squash hold the most flavor, no bigger than 8″ long.
The yellow skin should be evenly colored and slightly shiny.
Avoid ones with nicks, bruises, or soft spots.
Store UNWASHED summer squash in zip lock bags, in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Wash just prior to using, under cool running water.
Cut both ends off.
Some suggest cutting the squash in half and remove the seeds with a spoon; however, I cook my squash without removing the seeds.
Here is my version of a
Growing Your Own Summer Squash
Summer squash will put out tendrils, as it grows.
When the fruit is fully grown, these tendrils can become very heavy, therefore, a strong support or trellis system is imperative.
Trellises can be made from wood, poles, or even a pallet.
Squash vines are very thirsty and hungry. In order to grow successfully, you must have rich, fertile soil and give them plenty of water.
Tip: Water in the morning rather than in the evening so the soil is not damp at night – to discourage snails and slugs.
At the height of summer, they can grow at a surprising pace, so make sure they have plenty of space.
Seeds need to maintain a temperature of 68º to germinate, so take appropriate steps to make sure your soil stays in sunlight and is warm.
Once the soil has warmed up, mid-spring, seeds or seedlings can be planted directly into the ground.
Water regularly, especially when you see flowers or when the fruit is swelling. It is important to prevent them from drying out.
If you planted in good soil, additional fertilization should not be necessary, however, if growth is slow, you can water with a general liquid fertilizer.
Personally, I get great results with Miracle Grow Liquid Fertilizer. It is easy to use!
- Feeding as easy as watering
- Feed every 1-2 weeks
- It contains the garden feeder, 16 fl. oz. bottle of LiquaFeed All Purpose Plant Food, and one dosing spoon
- Easy-to-use dosing spoon lets you feed with a watering can
- For flowers, vegetables, trees, shrubs, and houseplants
Slugs and snails can be a problem for summer squash. They can destroy leaves overnight. Monitor plants closely.
An organic way to battle slugs and snails is to create a slug trap.
Using any steep-sided container (cut off the bottom of a two-liter soft drink bottle), fill it halfway with beer and sink it into the ground, between your plants, so the top is just above the surface.
At night, slugs and snails may fall into the trap and can be picked out and destroyed the next day when you weed.
Storing Your Summer Squash Harvest
The best way to store your summer harvest for winter cooking is to blanch, flash freeze, and deep freeze.
Place a large pot of water on high heat and bring to a rolling boil.
Place a large bowl on the counter and half fill with cold water and a few cups of ice.
Thoroughly wash the squash with a vegetable brush, under cool water. Allow squash to dry, or dry manually.
Ideally, use a mandolin to make every slice the same thickness, about 1/4″ to 1/2″ slices. If you do not have a mandolin, use a very sharp knife and try to make all slices uniform.
Working in batches, submerge slices in the boiling water, making sure slices are not touching each other, which may require gently stirring.
Allow to boil for 3-4 minutes. Carefully remove the squash.
I use a spider and place the slices in the ice bath for approximately 2-3 minutes to stop the cooking process. Do not allow the squash to sit in the ice batch for any longer.
Remove the slices from the ice bath and spread out, in a single layer, on a kitchen towel to dry.
I use a second kitchen towel and place it on top of the slices to pat dry the surface of the squash, avoiding ice crystals to form.
Prepare a half sheet pan with wax paper or parchment paper. Transfer the squash slices from the towel to the sheet pan.
Place in a deep freezer, flat, for approximately one hour.
Remove from the freezer. Place individual slices in a freezer-safe ziplock bag. Remove all air. Label and store in the deep freezer for future use.
Try to use squash within 6 months.
Fried Summer Squash
My grandma made the best-fried squash. Here is my modified version.
Fried Summer Squash
- 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
- 2-3 lbs fresh summer yellow squash cleaned and sliced to about 1/4" thick slices
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup self-rising cornmeal + 1 Tablespoon divided
- 1 Tablespoon white sugar
- 1 small shallot diced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Place 12" cast-iron skillet on medium to high heat.
- Pour vegetable oil into the bottom and allow it to heat up.
- While oil is heating, placed dry, sliced squash, flour, 1/4 cup cornmeal, and sugar in a large zip lock bag. Shake to thoroughly coat the squash.
- Once the oil is hot, saute shallot in oil for about 2 minutes. Do not allow it to burn.
- Add coated squash to hot oil.
- Sprinkle remaining tablespoon of meal on top of the squash.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper
- Allow squash to cook for about 5 minutes, it will start to brown and a light crust will form.
- Stir squash.
- Continue to cook for about 10 minutes, Stirring squash frequently.
- Squash will become dark brown and crusty.
- Using a spider, remove squash from pan and place in a bowl, lined with paper towels and allow squash to rest.
- Remove paper towels and serve.