Saturday, June 11, 2016

Old Fashioned Southern Squash Pickles

So why do we pickle vegetables? Well in the South in particular, it became a way of preserving summer's bounty when little to no refrigeration or freezing was available. Summer Squash Pickles, Bread and Butter Pickles, Pickled Okra, Dilled Green Beans and more became a way to "put things up" to enjoy year round. 

Brine squash in salt and water

It is rumored pickles were one of Cleopatra’s prized beauty secrets. They make appearances in the Bible and in Shakespeare’s writing. Pregnant women have been known to crave them along with ice cream. Pickles have been around for thousands of years, dating as far back as 2030 BC when cucumbers from their native India were pickled in the Tigris Valley. The word “pickle” comes from the Dutch pekel or northern German pókel, meaning “salt” or “brine,” two very important components in the pickling process. Throughout history pickling was a necessity, as it was the best way to preserve food for a long period of time. As one of the earliest mobile foods, pickles filled the stomachs of hungry sailors and travelers, while also providing families with a source of food during the cold winter months.

make sauce and pour over drained, brined pickles

Home pickling was made much easier and more sanitary during the 1850s, when two essential canning tools were invented. First, a Scottish chemist by the name of James Young created paraffin wax, which helped to create a seal for food preserved in jars. A few years later, John Mason developed and patented the first Mason jar. Mason’s jars were made from a heavyweight glass that was able to tolerate the high temperatures used in canning and processing pickles. (Source: Our

Using a slotted spoon, add squash to prepared canning jars

Cover squash pickles with sauce

10 small firm yellow squash, sliced 1/4-inch thick (about 7-8 cups)
3 zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick (about 2-3 cups)
1 small onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup canning salt
3 cups sugar
3 cups white vinegar
2 tsp. mustard seed
2 tsp. celery seed
2 tsp. turmeric

In a large stock pot, add sliced yellow squash, zucchini and onion. Sprinkle 1/2 cup canning salt over all, cover with cold water and let sit 2 hours. Drain, but do not rinse and set aside.

In a large saucepan, add sugar, vinegar and spices. Bring to a boil over medium high to high heat, stirring often. Remove pan from heat and pour mixture over drained squash. Let sit 30 minutes, stirring once in awhile to thoroughly blend.

Using a slotted spoon, fill prepared jars (wide mouth pint jars work best), pushing vegetables down in jars. Ladle hot liquid over vegetables leaving 1/2-inch head-space. Use a plastic knife and move up and down around sides of jars to remove air bubbles; top with more liquid if necessary,

Cover jars with lids and rings and process in boiling water bath or steam canner 10 minutes. Remove jars from canner and let sit on a kitchen towel on your counter-top 24 hours undisturbed. Jars are sealed when button in middle of lid is depressed and can't be moved.

Store in pantry up to 1 year. Opened jars must be refrigerated.

Cooks note - recipe is easily divided or doubled. Vinegar and Sugar ratio is 1:1 so adjust accordingly along with spices (less spice when divided, more spice when doubled).

Yield: 6 wide-mouth pint jars

Process in boiling water bath, cool and enjoy


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original 


  1. I love this recipe and have been making it for 3 years in pint jars. Can I put it up in Quart jars now that I have 3 teenagers that love pickles?! Thank you! Melissa Lower

  2. I had a recipe many years ago that I made pickled okra with. They turned out really good, nice and crispy. BUT, I have lost it and all the ones I find on Pinterest have to go in a bath, My recipe did not call for that. All I did was pack small clean pods of okra in the jars, kame up the vinegar solution and pour over the pods, put the flats and rings on and that was it, and they kept for months sitting on the shelf. Has anyone seen this recipe? tia

    1. No Joan it is not considered safe or shelf stable if you don't process in a water bath or steam canner. Otherwise, they need to be stored in the refrigerator.

  3. I didn’t use any zucchini only the yellow squash. The flavor is delicious. Next year I will try using zucchini too.

  4. My husband is a diabetic and loves pickles. He would love these pickled but could not eat them because of the sugar. Could the sugar be replaced with Splenda?

    1. Dee, yes you can use any sugar substitute you like.

  5. Cannot find mustard seeds or pickling spice, as I live in a small town. Can I used powdered mustard instead? I have all other ingredients, just not mustard seeds.

    1. Libby, you can or you can omit the mustard seed completely.

    2. you can order mustard seed from I got them in two days.

  6. Can they be stored in the fridge if you aren’t comfortable canning?

  7. oh no i rinsed mine!!!!!i had to leave the house and they soaked for 6 hours...... they were very salty to say the least so i soaked them in water. They are still super salty but they are cooking now. i hope they don't kill us. :0

  8. Replies
    1. Cover jars with lids and rings and process in boiling water bath or steam canner 10 minutes.

  9. I have just finished this recipe with using only yellow squash and onions. I also substituted the recommended spices with McCormick pickling spice, we like that flavor. The only issue was it produced 3 pint jars not six. Will be doing again tomorrow. Thank you.

    1. Well you'd need to increase the amount of yellow squash to account for not using the zucchini, so you'd need 10-11 cups.

  10. If I use pickling spice only, how much would I use?

    1. 1 teaspoon since it contains cloves which are a very strong spice.