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How to Store Summer Squash

Summer squash consists of squashes such as zucchinis, patty pans, yellow crook-necks, straight-necks and cocozelles. They are different than winter squash such as pumpkins and butternut squash in that they are harvested while they are slightly immature and the skins are still thin and tender. Summer squash can be stored for either short- or long-term use.

Place the squash in a plastic bag and store near the front of the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Refrigerate summer squash for two to four days. Do not wash or cut the squash first. If it is close to the back of the refrigerator, you are at risk for accidentally freezing the squash since the back of the refrigerator is colder and summer squash freezes easily.

Wash and cut the squash into 1/2-inch slices to blanch for freezing. You can also grate the squash, if desired. Place the squash in boiling water. Do not add too much squash to one pot of water. Ideally, there should be 1 lb. of squash for every gallon of water. Return the water to a boil and cook the squash for three minutes. Immediately, drain the squash in a colander and then cool it in icy-cold water.

Freeze summer squash by placing the blanched squash in freezer bags. Fill bags almost to the top and remove any air, which will cause freezer burn. If you use a container, leave about a half inch of space between the top of the squash and the rim of the container. You can keep summer squash for up to a year in your freezer.

Prune Summer Squash

Prune summer squash plants when they are near maturity, around six to eight weeks into the growing season. Be certain that the weather is above 60 degrees and the final frost of spring has passed. Use a sharp pruning knife or gardening shears to cut the excess vine away at a leaf joint. Learn to tell male squash blossoms from female blossoms. Male blossoms are quite thin and will never fruit, while female blossoms are wider and will appear swollen at the base at maturity; this swelling is the beginning of a squash fruit. When you see the bases of the female blossoms swell, pinch off ½ to 2/3 of the male blossoms to encourage the summer squash vine to produce more females while still leaving enough male blossoms to fertilize the new females and enable them to fruit. Remove squash as soon as they are fully ripe.

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